Pakistani authorities are planning to launch a large-scale military operation in Mach and other parts of Bolan, with the help of state-backed local militias, known as ‘death squads’. The leaders of these death squads — tribal chiefs and influential people — have been called to Quetta Cantt for consultations, according to sources.
The sources said that the operation will target Mach and some other areas of Bolan, and will involve a large ground force supported by air with gunship helicopters and possibly drones.
The operation is a response to the recent attack by the Baloch ‘pro-independence’ group in Mach. The attack, carried out by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), was named ‘Operation Dara-e-Bolan’. It began on January 29 and lasted for two days, ending on January 31 with the death of 13 BLA fighters and 78 Pakistani security personnel.
The attack was the largest of its kind, and for two days, the BLA fighters took control of Mach and forced the Pakistani forces to retreat. BLA said that 385 of its fighters took part in the attack.
On Saturday night, six more dead bodies were brought to the Quetta Civil Hospital. The authorities said that they were found during the clearance operation in Mach, but rights activists and nationalists have expressed concerns that they might be the bodies of Baloch missing persons who are often killed in fake encounters.