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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Three Pakistani soldiers killed in militant attack

The militants launched the attack in the country's troubled southwest [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 July, 2020

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At least three Pakistani soldiers were killed in an attack launched in the country's troubled southwest, just days after a similar assault killed four security forces near the Afghan border.
Militants on Tuesday opened fire on Pakistani security forces, killing three soldiers and wounding eight others in the country's troubled southwest, the military said.

The incident took place near Gichak Valley in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province which borders Afghanistan and Iran.

"Security forces were on routine patrolling when they came under terrorist fire that killed three soldiers and wounded eight others including an officer," a senior security official told AFP.

The "condition of five security officials is critical," a military statement said, adding that injured soldiers had been evacuated to a combined military hospital in the provincial capital Quetta.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Baluch separatists demanding greater autonomy have been waging an insurgency for years in the region, while the province is also riven by sectarian strife and Islamist violence.

Mineral-rich Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan's four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.

A similar attack took place just days earlier on Sunday.

Four Pakistani soldiers were killed in a clash with militants in the northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border, the military said

Read also: Pakistan PM Imran Khan slammed for saying bin Laden was 'martyred'

The incident took place in the turbulent town of Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan District, where several military operations have been launched in recent years against homegrown and foreign militants.

The latest clash occurred when security forces were conducting an operation against the hideouts of suspected militants in the area.

"As soon as the troops cordoned off the area" they came under fire, the military said in a statement. "All dug-out terrorists were shot down by security forces," but during the exchange of fire "four soldiers embraced shahadat", or martyrdom, it said.

Four "terrorists" were also killed in the clash, the statement added.

Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency for more than a decade, with thousands of civilians and security personnel killed in extremist attacks.

Violence in Pakistan has declined following army offensives in the region, but militant groups are still able to carry out isolated attacks. The area remains notorious for the availability of cheap guns, drugs, and smuggled goods.

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