14 Pakistani soldiers killed as militants ambush two vehicles carrying security forces in restive Balochistan

At least 14 Pakistani soldiers were killed on Friday when militants ambushed two vehicles carrying security forces in the country’s restive south-western province of Balochistan. Friday’s toll is the heaviest suffered by the military in Balochistan province this year where separatists and militants have stepped up their attacks since a ceasefire deal between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistan government ended in November 2022.

According to a statement by the Pakistan Army, the incident happened when terrorists ambushed two vehicles carrying soldiers from Pasni to the Ormara area of Gwadar district of the province.

The sanitisation operation is being carried out in the area and perpetrators of the heinous act will be hunted down and brought to justice, the statement said.

No further details were provided by the military media wing.

Balochistan’s caretaker Chief Minister Ali Mardan Domki strongly condemned the attack and vowed that the terrorists behind the strike would be brought to justice.

The attack comes just two days after security forces killed six terrorists in the Sambas area of Zhob district in the province on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, a bomb targeting a police convoy killed five people and injured over 20 others in Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Throughout the year, terrorists and separatists have been targeting security forces in Balochistan. Two soldiers were killed in the Khoro area of Awaran district last Sunday.

At least 60 people, including a policeman, died and 60 others were injured when a suicide bomber targeted a religious procession in September in the remote district of Mastung.

In July, 12 soldiers were killed in separate military operations in the Zhob and Sui areas of Balochistan.

Pakistan has been facing a rise in violence in the wake of the Taliban getting power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

According to a Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) report issued in September, Pakistan suffered 99 attacks in August, the highest number in a single month since November 2014. The number of militant attacks in August was the highest tally for monthly strikes in almost nine years.

The Gwadar district has seen the highest number of attacks in recent months and in August separatists belonging to the outlawed Baloch Liberation Army attacked a convoy of 23 Chinese engineers in the port town of Gwadar.

Three terrorists were killed in the attack while the Chinese engineers remained unharmed. The engineers were working in Gwadar port on infrastructure projects.

The Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), a think tank, in a report released in October, noted that the security forces lost at least 386 personnel in the first nine months of 2023, marking an eight-year high.

In the third quarter of 2023, some 445 people lost their lives and 440 suffered injuries from as many as 190 terror attacks and counter-terror operations, Geo News reported.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan were the primary centres of violence, accounting for nearly 94 per cent of all fatalities and 89 per cent of attacks (including incidents of terrorism and security forces operations) recorded during this period.

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