Paramilitary troops have killed dozens of Baloch rebels during a three-day operation in southwestern Pakistan, government officials say.
At least 34 fighters in the restive province of Balochistan were killed including Abdul Nabi Bangulzai, a senior commander of the United Baloch Army, according to military spokesman Khan Wasey.
"Acting upon intelligence information, paramilitary forces carried out the raids against militants' hideouts in Mastung and Kalat district of Balochistan," Wasey said.
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The operation took place in Kalat district, about 200km south of provincial capital, Quetta.
Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, the Balochistan government spokesman, told Al Jazeera: "Ninety two militants have been killed since December, while security forces have cleared many remote areas where armed rebels were challenging the state".
Baloch rebel fighters seeking autonomy have waged war against the central Pakistan government for more than a decade. Locals accuse the government of exploiting their resources without providing adequate compensation.
Attacks on security personnel by separatist fighters are common - as are retaliatory operations by Pakistani forces, who have abducted and extrajudicially killed hundreds of Baloch political activists, rights groups allege.
Nasrullah Baloch, chairman of the group Voice of Baloch Missing Persons, has collated information from court cases about the disappeared since 2009.
He said that he fears those killed during the latest military operation were people previously taken by security services.
"In the past, the government claimed to have killed militants, but in fact they were those who were previously abducted by law enforcement agencies," Baloch told Al Jazeera.
"In March, the government claimed to have killed 12 militants in an encounter in Sibbi area of Balochistan, wherein they all are were previously abducted unarmed civilians," he added.
Some Baloch hardliners demand the mineral-rich province's separation from Pakistan.
Additional reporting by Kiyya Baloch. Follow him on Twitter:
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Source: Al Jazeera and agencies