Six killed as Pakistan army helicopter crashes in Balochistan

Military says the chopper crashes during a late night mission in the country’s southwest, killing all six on board.

Pakistan helicopter
It was the second deadly chopper incident in less than two months in Pakistan [File: Anjum Naveed/AP]

Islamabad, Pakistan – An army helicopter has crashed during an overnight mission in southwest Pakistan’s Balochistan province, killing all six people on board, including two officers.

In a statement on Monday, the military said the chopper crashed late last night during an operational flight near the town of Khost, roughly 121 kilometres (75 miles) from Balochistan’s capital Quetta.

“A helicopter on a flying mission crashed late last night. Six personnel – including two army majors (both pilots) embraced shahadat (martyrdom) in the crash,” said the statement.

The army’s statement did not elaborate on what caused the incident or the nature of their operation in the area.

In a tweet in Urdu language, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday offered his condolences and prayed for the deceased soldiers and their families.

Opposition leader and former federal information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, demanded an evaluation of the safety of Pakistan army helicopters.

“Heli flying is getting dangerous. This needs engineering evaluation, too many crashes,” he tweeted.

Authorities said they are investigating the incident – the second in less than two months.

On August 1, an army helicopter crashed in Balochistan’s Lasbela district during a flood-related operation, killing six including a senior army official.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, is also the hub of a decades-old separatist movement. Various armed groups based in the province have claimed attacks on Pakistani security forces in the past.

However, no rebel group has so far claimed responsibility for Sunday night’s crash.

Balochistan is also a key component of Pakistan ally China’s multi-billion Belt and Road Initiative.

Source: Al Jazeera