Islamabad, Pakistan – Ethnic Baloch separatists have killed at least two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers in a coordinated attack on a senior officer’s convoy in the southwestern province of Balochistan.
The attack occurred in Washk district, about 345km south of the provincial capital, Quetta, on Thursday, security officials said.
“Balochistan Liberation Army [BLA] fighters conducted this attack, and it was a joint operation with the Baloch Liberation Front [BLF],” BLA spokesperson Jihand Baloch told Al Jazeera via satellite phone from an undisclosed location.
For more than a decade, armed Baloch separatist groups have been fighting for independence against Pakistani security forces, whom they consider to be an occupying force in Pakistan’s largest and least-populated province.
The BLA and BLF are two of the more active groups in the region, conducting frequent attacks against Pakistani forces, as well as on projects being completed under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $56bn project that links southwestern China to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan.
CPEC includes numerous transportation infrastructure projects and the major port of Gwadar in southern Balochistan, as well as several large power plants and special economic zones.
“The BLA and BLF have conducted numerous operations together, and will continue to do so,” BLA spokesperson Baloch said, adding that about a dozen fighters participated in the raid, using rocket launchers and automatic rifles.
‘Enemies of the state’
Pakistani security officials confirmed the attack and death toll, with State Minister for Interior Shahryar Afridi condemning the incident.
“Enemies of the state should be clear that these sorts of cowardly attacks will not diminish our commitment and motivation,” Afridi said in a statement released after the attack.
The attack targeted the convoy of the local commander of the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force that controls law and order across much of the vast province.
Major-General Saeed Ahmed Nagra escaped unhurt, officials said, although two soldiers were killed in the attack.
In a separate incident on Thursday, a police constable was killed in the Balochistan provincial capital of Quetta, security sources said.
Armed men riding a motorcycle targeted the constable as he was heading to a local police station in the Nawa Killi area of the city, security sources told Al Jazeera.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an armed group that has been fighting Pakistani forces since 2007, claimed that attack in a statement.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. Additional reporting by Saadullah Akhtar in Quetta.