Sunday, December 25, 2005

Pakistan: Fierce Fighting in Bekar

Azizullah Khan, Daily Times:
Up to 18 people were killed on Saturday when security forces swept into the Kharcha area of Bekar, which is on the border of Dera Bugti, Kohlu and Barkhan, Senator Sana Baloch of the Balochistan National Party said. READ MORE

Baloch said that security forces were backed by nine helicopters. Frontier Corps troops moved into Baekar after rebel tribesmen ambushed a convoy with rockets, a Frontier Corp spokesman told Daily Times.

A security official in the region told AP. “Yes, security forces suffered casualties, but I don’t have numbers,” he said.

The FC spokesman said security forces had captured a camp at Chhabar, and now occupied six of 13 “militant camps” in the Kohlu area.

MPA Balach Marri said that security forces had stepped up their campaign in Kohlu over the last three days and claimed that around 80 people had been killed in “aerial bombing and because of the harsh weather, exacerbated by a shortage of electricity and water.

However, Mohabat Khan Marri, a former provincial minister and opponent of Balach Marri, said from Kohlu that the situation was normal in the Maewand area of Kohlu.

Kohlu resident Anwar told Daily Times that security forces were “attacking” the villages of Nisao, Tritani, Chhabar, and Kahan.

Despite the widespread reports of civilian casualties, hospitals in the area have not reported receiving injured people or dead bodies. Locals said this was because security forces had besieged the area from all sides and people feared being arrested if they took the injured to hospital. They said that it was “common practice” for security forces to arrest the injured, regardless of who they were. Baloch nationalists protested against the military action in Kohlu and Dera Bugti in front of Quetta Press Club on Saturday and announced a shutter down and wheel jam strike on December 27. Lawyers also protested on Saturday and Baloch women are due to protest today (Sunday).

AP adds: In a pre-dawn raids, suspected Baloch militants exploded a bomb outside a police station at Mastoi, 50 kilometres west of Quetta, said police chief Tahir Kasi.

Hours earlier, a bomb destroyed a section of a rail track linking Quetta with Iran’s border town of Zahidan. The attack happened five minutes after a special train carrying officials had passed over it, said Ghulam Rasoom, a railway official.

Also on Saturday, several rockets landed near a post of the Frontier Corps in Kohlu.
Earlier reports indicated Iranian Intelligence were involved.