Four militants killed as Pakistani forces foil attack on naval base in Balochistan — police

QUETTA: Police said on Tuesday Pakistani security forces had killed four militants who attempted to storm the country’s second largest naval base located in the southwestern Balochistan province.

The latest assault on the naval facility in Turbat, a district in Balochistan, comes less than a week after two soldiers were killed as militants launched a gun and bomb attack on a complex outside the strategic port of Gwadar. The Pakistan army said all eight militants involved in that attack were killed.

Turbat Deputy Superintendent of Police Chakar Hayat told Arab News four gunmen attempted to storm Turbat Airport where the base is located but were blocked by security forces, resulting in a heavy exchange of gunfire.

“Four terrorists were killed in the attack on Turbat airport and a security clearance operation is going-on to clear the area,” Hayat said early on Tuesday morning, adding that the attack had been foiled.

“No casualty of any security personnel or civilians has been reported in the attack.”

The army has not yet commented on the attack.

The banned separatist group, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), claimed responsibility for the assault, saying it had attacked the naval air base in Turbat at 10pm and killed over a dozen “enemy personnel.”

Balochistan is the site of a long-running insurgency by separatist militants and the BLA and other groups have previously been involved in attacks on Pakistani and Chinese interests in the region and elsewhere.

China has invested heavily in impoverished but mineral-rich Balochistan, including developing Gwadar port, despite the decades-long separatist insurgency. The province is also home to a mining project at Reko Diq, one of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper-gold areas, in which Canadian Miner Barrick Gold Corporation is investing $10 billion.

Last week, newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed authorities to ensure security of workers at the multi-billion-dollar copper and gold project.

“Due to a prompt and effective response by the security forces, terrorists were sent to hell, thus saving the country from a big damage,” Sharif was quoted as saying by his office after the latest attack in Turbat.

“The entire nation is standing with their brave security forces and paid tribute to them.”

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