14 paramilitary troopers killed in ambush

Islamabad: Fourteen paramilitary troopers were killed in an ambush by militants in Balochistan, one of the deadliest attacks in the restive province of southwest Pakistan in recent months.

The banned Baloch Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the attack on the Frontier Corps personnel in Nawano area of Turbat district late Wednesday night.

The paramilitary personnel were on a patrol in two vehicles when the militants, hiding in nearby mountains, attacked them from three sides with rockets and automatic weapons. Several rockets slammed into the vehicles, killing 12 troopers and two non-commissioned officers, officials said.

The militants fired about a dozen rockets and then came down from the hills and raked the vehicles with bullets. Reports said the sudden attack was so intense that the paramilitary troops could not retaliate. The attackers escaped after the ambush, officials said.

A large contingent of security forces later went to the site and brought the bodies of the paramilitary personnel back to Turbat town. A BLF spokesman who identified himself as Gohram Baloch claimed responsibility for the attack in phone calls to journalists.

Baloch nationalist groups have been waging a violent insurgency in the southwestern province to demand greater autonomy and control over natural resources like gas and minerals.

The federal government has announced a development package for the province and made several offers to engage the nationalists in peace talks. However, there has been no response from the Baloch groups to these offers.