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October 27, 2016

Balochistan witnesses 70% surge in violence

Islamabad

October 27, 2016

Islamabad

Balochistan witnessed record 70% surge in violence amidst rising sectarian strife and targeted killings while the government’s inability to deal with the situation appears more jarring than ever.

It has become a base for a decade-long insurgency where over two dozen banned outfits, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in particular, gained deeper ground throughout the troubled province. “Province witnesses more than 70% increase in violence as compare to 2014 and 2014—LeJ and other Baloch militant groups expanded scope of their activities in more lethal way,” read the official documents exclusively obtained by the Geo News on Tuesday.

Around two dozen most wanted commanders of LeJ, who have either joined Islamic State (Daesh), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Almi, Jundullah or Junood-ul-Hifza are believed to be involved in major attacks recently shaken the province, killing more than 325 innocent people in last ten months. This is the highest number of causalities after 2013, showed the documents. Some 202 people killed in 310 target and sectarian incidents in 2015 while 275 innocent citizens sacrificed their lives in hundreds of terror attacks in 2014, revealed the official data.

The provincial home department with collaboration of federal government announced over Rs50 million head money for these LeJ’s kingpins operating in various parts of the province. A few of them have also been in contact with Baloch militant groups, officials said. But interestingly provincial authorities remained clueless about whereabouts of more than 70 percent terror suspects whose names were put on 4th schedule as they were posing a potential threat to the security of the largest province and its mega projects. “These splinter groups were behind violence triggered after work started on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Balochistan,” a senior security official told Geo News.

Among these terrorists, Amed Khan alias Bombar Khan who carries Rs2 million on his head, replaced Usman Saifullah, the kingpin of LeJ in Balochistan killed in an encounter with law enforcement agencies in February last year, revealed the officials. Bomber Khan is also being suspected as a key planner of Monday’s terror attack which killed more than 61 recruits in Quetta. But it is still being investigated by security officials. Bombers had already been successfully conducted two terrorist attacks including the killing of dozens of Hazars, under training police recruits of Police Training Center, Quetta at Seriab Road in 2003 and 2008.

Farooq Bangulzai is another commander of LeJ who allegedly recruits militants for Daesh in the province. The home department has announced Rs2 million as a bounty on his head, official documents continued to reveal. Bangulzai is said to be training young recruits in Balochistan Liberation Army’s Kabo Ferrari Camp, Mastung. He was also involved in the planning of suicide attack on Imam Bargah Kallan Quetta and declared proclaimed offender by many courts. The provincial government has announced two million rupees as his head money. Ziaul Haq, another key commander of LeJ, with Rs2 million bounties, is said to be trainer of suicide bombers and currently working for Baloch Regiment Army in Dera Bugti. Naseer Raisani and Amir Zehri, with head money of Rs4 million, joined LeJ al-Almi last year and planned many attacks in Quetta.

Among other key LeJ commanders are Haji Saeed, now works with Balochistan Liberation Army, Arif Lashari, Jan Lehri, Asghar Suleiman Hafiz Wazir, Mohammad Karbalai and Abid Ali who remained master planners for several suicide blasts and target killing incidents in the province.

Around 132 security personnel and 193 civilians lost their lives in over 260 incidents of firing, suicide bombing, target killing and landmines by October 15, revealed the official data. Over 51 bullet-ridden dead bodies recovered from six divisions of province, revealed the data. Over 450 people injured in these attacks. Official documents further revealed that around 321 of 456 terror suspects, already listed to category ‘A’ of Schedule IV under recently amended Anti-Terrorism laws (ATA 1997), went missing last year.

“Over 70 percent suspects (who are high security risks for the province) are missing -- it is therefore requested that further monitoring/verification of activities of these suspects (must) be carried out through district intelligence coordination committees,” revealed an official confidential communication between Counter Terrorism Department and Special Branch of Balochistan Police happened on May 6, 2015.

Among other militant groups operating in the province are Jaish-e-Islam, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jundullah, Jaish-e-Adl, Sipah-e-Mohammad Pakistan, Baloch Army, Lashkar-e-Balochistan, Al-Qaeda and Baloch Liberation Front. These groups are targeting military, CPEC’s projects, minorities and civilians.