Soldiers killed in two separate attacks in Pakistan’s Balochistan | News

Islamabad, Pakistan – At least seven soldiers were killed in two separate attacks in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, in the southwest of the country, says the army, the latest violence in a region devastated by separatist violence.

Six soldiers were killed when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in the Pir Ghaib area, about 55 km southeast of the provincial capital of Quetta, on Monday night, the military said in a statement.

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The soldiers were "returning to base camp after the routine patrol service," the statement said.

Local administration official Bashir Amand confirmed the death toll on Al Jazeera.

In a separate attack on Monday, a soldier was killed during "an exchange of fire with terrorists" in the Mand area in the province, along the border with neighboring Iran, according to the statement.

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No group immediately took responsibility for the attacks, but the area has seen a resurgence in ethnic separatist violence in recent weeks.

Six soldiers were killed in a similar attack earlier this month. This attack was claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), an armed group calling for independence for the province's Baloch ethnic areas.

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Balochistan, rich in minerals, is the largest, but least populous, province of Pakistan, located in the southwest of the country.

Their districts appear regularly at the bottom of the country's socioeconomic indicator ranking, and residents complain that they do not receive a fair share of the mineral and petrochemical wealth extracted from their province.

The $ 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project has brought renewed attention to the province, where an important deepwater port in the city of Gwadar is the culmination of a trade route that is being established to connect China to the Arabian Sea across the length of Pakistan.

Baloch's separatists called the projects "imperialism" and targeted Chinese engineers and workers associated with them.

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Thousands of Pakistani military and paramilitary personnel are assigned to protect CPEC's infrastructure projects still under construction and other areas of the province, where the police and civil administration have secondary authority.

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Asad Hashim is the digital correspondent for Al Jazeera in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

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