Govt officials among nine kidnapped in Balochistan

Baloch armed men.—AFP/FileQUETTA: Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti addresses a press conference here on Monday.—Online

QUETTA: Suspected activists of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan kidnapped nine people, including government officials, in the past 24 hours.

“Nine people who were travelling in a passenger bus and a car have been kidnapped by armed men near Zhob,” Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said at a press conference here on Monday.

Armed men intercepted a Zhob-bound passenger bus coming from Quetta on Sunday and took away five people with them.

Sources said the kidnappers checked national identity cards of the passengers and separated five people, including government officials and a student of Bolan Medical College, Quetta, from the others.

The home minister said security forces had launched a search operation in Zhob and Qila Saifullah areas to recover the kidnapped people.

Search operation launched in Zhob and Qila Saifullah

He said four other people, who were travelling to Quetta from Islamabad, were also kidnapped.

No organisation has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, but Mr Bugti said the TTP was involved in both incidents. “The Taliban are behind the kidnapping of nine people,” he said.

The minister said at least eight militants had been killed and over 15 arrested during a weeklong operation against the militants involved in kidnapping for ransom, attacking personnel of security forces and Frontier Works Organisation, target killings and bomb blasts in Kalat and Panjgur districts. “Two camps of the militants were destroyed in the operation,” he said.

He said an intelligence-based crackdown and search operations were going on in Bolan and other areas against terrorists and other criminals.

Mr Bugti said security forces also conducted an operation in Ziarat, Sanjavi and Qila Saifullah against suspected TTP elements and arrested several people. They were being interrogated.

He said the elements killed and arrested during the operation belonged to banned militant organisations. Local administration, police and Levies conducted raids in Bolan district against highway men and kidnappers and arrested over 50 people, he added.

“There is zero tolerance of terrorists and non-state lashkars and organisations involved in terrorist activities.”

The minister said strict action was in progress against foreign-funded armed groups under the National Action Plan.

Frontier Corps DIG Brig Tahir Mehmood told newsmen that digging of a trench along Pak-Afghan border was in progress. “We have completed around 500km of the trench so far and will dig out another 250km along Afghan and Iranian borders” to stop illegal influx of people and keep an eye on the border movement.

The home minister said the trench was being dug by the Frontier Corps through its own resources and the provincial government had not given any fund for this purpose.

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