QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani troops have killed 13 members of a militant group that claimed responsibility for a weekend attack on a dam project in the southwestern Baluchistan province that left 20 construction workers dead, an army spokesman said Monday.
The soldiers conducted an operation in the Gobdan area of the Turbat district in the province, about 400 kilometer (250 miles) south of the provincial capital of Quetta, searching for "terrorists who massacred" the workers, said Abdul Wasay, spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps.
The operation followed the attack on Saturday, when militants stormed a labor camp near the dam construction site, overpowering eight security guards who then took off and ran for their lives, and shooting dead sleeping laborers before fleeing the scene.
The Baluch Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the attack shortly afterward. It is one among several nationalist and separatist groups behind a low-level insurgency in Baluchistan demanding a greater share of gas and mineral revenue for the Baluch minority and complete autonomy from Islamabad.
The Baluch separatists have fought against the Islamabad-based government for years in the region, where also other Islamic extremist groups are active.
Baluchistan home minister, Sarfaraz Bugti, said the eight security guards have been arrested for negligence.
Most of the workers were from Pakistan's largest, most populous and the most developed Punjab province. Previous attacks by Baluch separatists have also targeted people from Punjab, who the militants claim are exploiting their region.
A senior BLF commander was among those killed in the operation by the Frontier Corps while another wanted commander was arrested, the army spokesman also said.