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Surge in ‘civilian casualties’ in Balochistan worries HRCP

Surge in ‘civilian casualties’ in Balochistan worries HRCP

KARACHI: Concerned over reports of an increase in civilian casualties from the Johan area of Kalat and the Isplingi area of Mastung allegedly as a result of an operation by security forces, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Zohra Yusuf said on Tuesday the authorities needed to ensure excessive force was not being used, as it would further alienate the people of Balochistan.

Three days back, almost every newspaper in the province carried a report about a security forces offensive in the Johan area in which Abdul Nabi Bangulzai, an alleged leader of banned militant group United Baloch Army, was killed along with his accomplices. According to a statement later issued to the media, the suspected militants were involved in the killing of 22 Pakhtun passengers in Mastung in June last year.

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti told a press conference earlier this month that around 34 suspects had been killed during a crackdown in the Johan area of Kalat.

Since then, media reports speak of the deaths of suspected militants in the forces offensive in Johan and Ispingli. The recent increase in casualties from these two areas being reported at the Quetta’s Civil Hospital has become a cause of concern for the HRCP whose representatives say it is difficult to identify those getting killed in the military operation due to its inaccessibility to rights activists.

Speaking to Dawn, Ms Yusuf said that 27 bodies were brought to the Civil Hospital in Quetta over the past few days that she said was alarming. “Since the areas mentioned are inaccessible to journalists and activists, it is difficult to identify the dead. But, according to our activists who spoke to the people in the surrounding areas of Quetta, these are civilian casualties,” she added.

About development work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Ms Yusuf added: “We keep getting reports that the killings are due to the CPEC but we can’t verify these reports as the areas where the army is carrying out the offensive against suspected militants is inaccessible to our activists.”

Courtesy : Dawn News



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