Islamabad, Feb 3 (EFE).- At least four Pakistani soldiers and 15 militants have died in two overnight gunfights in the volatile Balochistan province, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said Thursday.
Rashid said the gun battles erupted after militants attacked two security checkpoints in Panjgur and Naushki areas of Balochistan on Wednesday night.
He said security forces retaliated the militant attack in Naushki, triggering an encounter during which nine militants and four soldiers died.
“In Panjgur, six terrorists were killed,” Rashid said in a video message.
“It is a great success that the Pakistan Army has achieved against terrorism,” said the minister.
Prime Minister Imran Khan paid tributes to the slain soldiers.
“We salute our brave security forces who repulsed terrorist attacks against security forces,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.
The prime minister said the nation stood united behind security forces “who continue to give great sacrifices to protect” the country.
In a statement, the Pakistan Army said terrorists tried to storm into a security cam in Panjgur.
“(But the) timely response by troops foiled the terrorist attempt,” the media wing of the army said last night.
The army said militants also tried to enter Frontier Corps camp in Panjgur, but the soldier responded promptly to thwart the bid.
Insurgent group Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In a statement, BLA spokesperson Jeeyand Baloch rejected the army claim as “a complete lie.”
The group claimed to have stormed the checkpoints where its fighters killed more than 100 soldiers.
The attacks are the latest in a series of heightened militant strikes in the poverty-ridden Balochistan province that has battled deadly insurgency for years.
Earlier, a fire raid on a military check post in Kech district killed ten soldiers on Jan.26.
Several ethnic Baloch armed separatist groups are fighting the government for an independent state.
The insurgent groups blame the central government for unfairly exploiting the rich gas and mineral resources of the largest province in Pakistan.
They routinely claim attacks against government forces.
The insurgents have targeted the military and infrastructure development projects involving Chinese investment in the past. EFE