Baloch Insurgents Claim Responsibility for Shooting Down 'Low-Flying' Pakistani Military Chopper
09:04 GMT 03.08.2022 (Updated: 08:48 GMT 14.02.2023)
Balochistan has witnessed a decades-long insurgency, as armed ethnic secessionists have been advocating for independence. Pakistan's largest province borders the Arabian Sea coast, Iran and Afghanistan and has huge reserves of gold, copper and natural gas, making it economically and strategically important.
An insurgent group advocating for the "liberation" of Balochistan from Pakistan has claimed that its fighters shot down a “low-flying” Pakistani military chopper which crashed on August 1 while carrying out relief operations in the flood-ravaged province.
Baloch Khan, the spokesperson of Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS), said in a statement on Tuesday evening that the group’s fighters shot down the aircraft with anti-aircraft guns, following which it got “badly damaged” and ultimately crashed in the province’s Lasbela District.
Six Pakistani soldiers, including a Corp-commander level officer and the Director General of Pakistan’s Coast Guard, have been killed in the incident, the group has claimed.
Khan alleged that Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali, the Corp Commander killed in the crash, was “directly involved in enforced disappearances and the Baloch genocide.”
Encounters between Baloch militants
and Pakistani forces are rather a regular affair in the province, with casualties inflicted on both sides.
The last encounter in the province was reported on July 29, as per a statement from Pakistani military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Baloch rights groups have accused Pakistani forces of kidnappings and the torture of thousands of residents who the state believes are sympathetic to the cause of independence.
The militant group further claimed that “accepting responsibility for the attack was delayed to ensure protection” for the insurgents involved in the attack.
He said that all the insurgents who brought down the military chopper have “successfully reached their secure locations.”
The BLAS has also vowed to continue its attacks against the Pakistani military till it achieves its aim of liberating the province from Islamabad.
The statement from BLAS came hours after the Pakistani military claimed in an official statement that the helicopter crash had taken place due to “bad weather” while carrying out flood relief operations.
Since last month, Balochistan has been grappling with heavy rainfall and flooding that has caused deaths and extensive damage
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Balochistan said this week that at least 136 people died and over 70 have been injured due to various flood-related incidents in the region, according to state broadcaster Radio Pakistan.
The agency has also said that nearly 14,000 houses across the province “collapsed” or were left “partially damaged” due to heavy rains and flooding.
More than 600 kilometers of highways have also been “severely affected” in Balochistan.