By Gul Yousafzai
QUETTA, Pakistan – Twenty militants and nine soldiers were killed in recent days during insurgent attacks on two military bases in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province and the military’s response, the military said on Saturday.
The attacks, the biggest in recent years by ethnic Baloch insurgents, began on Wednesday night.
“A total of 20 militants were killed during Panjgur and Nauski operations. Security forces have completed the clearance operation today,” said a statement by military’s media wing.
The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which had earlier claimed the attack, also issued a statement on Saturday night saying “all targets successfully achieved.” It said 16 fighters sacrificed themselves in the attacks, a phrasing that indicated but did not say clearly that they had died.
Ethnic Baloch guerrillas have been fighting the government for decades, demanding a separate state and saying the central government unfairly exploits Balochistan’s rich gas and mineral resources.
Last week, the army said insurgents killed 10 soldiers in an attack on a post near the port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, the heaviest death toll for the army in the Balochistan insurgency in years.