QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) – Gunmen attacked a security forces’ training base in the restive southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan on Tuesday, setting off a gunbattle in which at least four members of the security forces and four attackers were killed, officials said.
The attackers apparently intended to hit a residential compound at a training center of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Loralai district but were challenged at the entrance, according to a statement from Inter Services Public Relations, the main military communications unit.
Four members of the security forces were killed and two wounded in an initial exchange of gunfire before the attackers were isolated in an adjacent compound. Four gunmen, including one who detonated a suicide vest, were subsequently killed.
“The valiant and timely action of security forces denied the terrorists entry into residential area which would have resulted in more casualties,” the ISPR statement said.
The attack, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, was the latest in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and poorest province which is at the center of the strategic China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure development project.
The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan or TTP, which is separate from the Afghan Taliban, claimed responsibility.
Balochistan is rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies, and a number of militant groups, including the TTP and the Balochistan Liberation Army, operate in the province.
Reporting by Gul Yousufzai in and Saud Mahsud in DERA ISMAIL KHAN; writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Robin Pomeroy