The Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistani army, confirmed in a statement that the Frontier Corps had been attacked in Harnai district of Balochistan on Saturday. Seven soldiers were killed in the attack. Baloch Liberation Army, the fiercest pro-independence group in Balochistan, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“During [an] intense exchange of fire, seven brave soldiers embraced shahadat while repulsing raiding terrorists”, the ISPR said in the statement.
It said that the area has been cordoned off and all the escape routes have been blocked in an attempt to corner the attackers. A large-scale search/clearance operation is also in progress in the area.
“Such cowardly acts by inimical elements backed by anti state forces will not be allowed to sabotage hard earned peace and prosperity in Balochistan. Security forces are determined to thwart their nefarious designs at all costs”, the statement said.
In a tweet, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan said that he was “saddened to hear of” the death of the seven soldiers in Harnai. He offered his condolences to the family members of the slain soldiers.
“My heartfelt condolences & prayers go to their families. Our nation stands with our courageous soldiers who face attacks from Indian backed terrorists”, the tweet read.
The Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack. In a media statement, Jeeyand Baloch, spokesperson for the group, said that the BLA had attacked and subsequently captured the forces’ outposts in Harnai. The attackers also confiscated large supplies of weapons and ammunition from the outposts, he said.
The statement, however, conflicted the death toll of the attack which the ISPR claimed was seven. BLA said that it had killed 11 personnel of the forces, and several of them had fled the scene, leaving their weapons and fallen companions behind.
Related: BLA threatens to take the war to Punjab, says it has capabilities
According to the sources, the Pakistani military was targeted once again in the very same area on Sunday. After the attack on the outpost by BLA, a large convoy of the forces were advancing into the region. One of the vehicles reportedly ran over a mine, triggering a blast that heavily damaged the vehicle and wounded and killed several of its occupants.
According to the official figures, six soldiers were wounded in the attack. The local sources say that the forces also sustained fatalities, but the officials have neither confirmed nor denied these claims.
The number of armed confrontations between the Pakistani forces and the Baloch insurgents has spiked in the past couple of weeks.
Earlier in October, 14 security men – seven personnel of the Frontier Corps and seven guards employed by OGDCL – were killed in an attack on the Ormara Coastal Highway. Baloch Raj Aajohi Sangar claimed responsibility for the attack.
On December 20, the ISPR confirmed in a statement that a sepoy had been killed in the cross-fire between the insurgents and the security forces in Awaran.
Four days ago, the ISPR said in a statement that 10 insurgents had been killed in a military operation on their hideout in Awaran.
Related: ISPR confirms Awaran attack on Pakistani forces, BRAS claims responsibility
“These terrorists were involved in firing on security forces, which resulted in martyrdom of Lance Naik Mohammad Iqbal on Dec 20 in the Awaran area,” the statement read.