Gun­men kill 20 la­bor­ers in SW Pak­istan: of­fi­cials

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Gun­men have killed 20 con­struc­tion work­ers in Pak­istan’s restive south­west­ern prov­ince of Baluchis­tan, shoot­ing them at point blank range af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing they were not lo­cal, of­fi­cials said Satur­day.

Baluchis­tan is plagued by vi­o­lence, with sep­a­ratists seek­ing greater con­trol over the prov­ince’s rich oil, gas and min­eral re­sources, and gun­men have pre­vi­ously tar­geted out­siders seen as set­tlers.

The Baluch

Lib­er­a­tion Front ( BLF), an armed group that wants the prov­ince to be “lib­er­ated” from the rest of Pak­istan, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the in­ci­dent.

“Gun­men stormed the camp of la­bor­ers in Gokh Don area of Baluchis­tan late Fri­day night and killed 20 la­bor­ers,” se­nior po­lice of­fi­cial Tariq Khilji told AFP.

He said those killed were all from out­side the prov­ince — 16 of them from Pun­jab and four from Sindh prov­ince.

The in­ci­dent, which oc­curred around 1,050 kilo­me­ters ( 650 miles) south­west of Quetta, was con­firmed by Ak­bar Hus­sain Dur­rani, a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial in the prov­ince.

“The la­bor­ers were work­ing on con­struc­tion of a small lo­cal bridge,” he said.

Hus­sain said some of the la­bor­ers re­ported be­ing wo­ken from their sleep by the sound of gun­shots and screams.

“They had lined them up and shot them at point blank range af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing their iden­tity,” he said.

Hus­sain

said

para­mil­i­tary troops were guard­ing the la­bor­ers but fled when con­fronted by a large num­ber of armed at­tack­ers.

A spokesman for BLF said the group would carry out more at­tacks un­til the prov­ince was given in­de­pen­dence.

“We will con­tinue our fight against Pak­istani oc­cu­pa­tion un­til ( the) lib­er­a­tion of Baluchis­tan,” Go­ran Baluch told AFP.

BLF be­came known for the kid­nap­ping of Amer­i­can UNHCR worker John Solecki from Quetta on Fe­bru­ary 2009. Solecki was later re­leased on “hu­mani-

tar­ian grounds.”

Al­leged Rights Abuses

Sarfraz Bugti, the pro­vin­cial home min­is­ter, has or­dered the ar­rest of the po­lice and para­mil­i­tary sol­diers who were meant to be guard­ing the la­bor­ers, he told re­porters in Quetta.

“I would have raised my head in pride had any of the po­lice­men or para­mil­i­tary sol­diers died or been in­jured while re­sist­ing the attack, but I feel ashamed to say that they fled,” he said.

He added that army he­li­cop- ters had been dis­patched to the area to trans­port the dead to their home towns.

“I would re­quest that the gov­ern­ment ex­tend the on­go­ing mil­i­tary of­fen­sive against re­li­gious mil­i­tants to eth­nic mil­i­tants too,” he said re­fer­ring to the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion against Tal­iban in­sur­gents in the coun­try’s restive north­west.

“I strongly condemn the ac­tion of Baluchis­tan Lib­er­a­tion Front, they should be ashamed to call them­selves na­tion­al­ists, they are ter­ror­ists and the group’s leader, who hap­pens to be a doc­tor, is an in­sult to the pro­fes­sion,” the min­is­ter said.

Dr. Al­lah Nazar Baluch, chief of BLF, quit his med­i­cal ca­reer to take up arms against the state.

Hu­man rights groups al­lege se­cu­rity forces are guilty of abuses, and are re­spon­si­ble for pick­ing up non-mil­i­tant sep­a­ratists — in­clud­ing aca­demics and stu­dents — tor­tur­ing them and dump­ing their bod­ies on the streets.

The se­cu­rity ser­vices deny the al­le­ga­tions and say they are bat­tling a fierce re­bel­lion in the re­gion.

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