Three Pakistani soldiers were killed and five wounded in two attacks on military vehicles by unknown assailants Sunday night. Both attacks took place in Balochistan, the Montana-sized province in the southwest of Pakistan where Baloch nationalist groups have waged a decadeslong campaign for independence.
The insurgency, which has seen an upswing in attacks against Pakistani forces in recent weeks, is also supported by members of the Baloch ethnic group in neighboring Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province, and in the Balochistan region of southern Afghanistan.
Taliban and various other forces also have a presence in Balochistan. In one attack Sunday, in the province’s capital and largest city, Quetta, located about 60 kilometers from the Afghan border, gunmen ambushed a patrol vehicle and opened fire, killing three Pakistani soldiers and wounding one, the army said in a statement. In the other attack, gunmen targeted soldiers patrolling in Turbat, wounding four.
Turbat, located 600 kilometers southwest of Quetta and 120 kilometers from the border with Iran, is the province’s second-largest city. In an effort to prevent infiltration by foreign forces, as well as smugglers, Pakistan is fencing off its long borders with Afghanistan and Iran. The military says the fence along the Afghan border is 85% complete.