QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani security forces killed nine Islamic State militants during an hours-long raid near Quetta in the restive southwest of the country that has been hit by repeated jihadist attacks this month, officials said on Thursday.
Four members of the security forces were wounded in the operation, which started early on Thursday morning in a mountainous area called Qabu Koh-e-Mehran in the Mastung district, 29 miles (47 km) from Quetta city.
“Nine bodies (of Islamic State militants) have been brought to hospital from Mastung,” Waseem Baig, a spokesman for Civil Hospital Quetta, told Reuters.
Security forces acted after a sudden surge in militant assaults across Pakistan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Five police were killed in the latest attack, on Monday night in Quetta, which was claimed by Islamic State.
“We acted on intelligence reports of a Daesh hideout,” a senior official of the Counter Terrorism Department of Baluchistan police told Reuters, requesting anonymity for security reasons, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
“A sizable cache of arms and ammunition including rocket launchers, several suicide vests were also been recovered during the raid.”
Various Islamist militant groups as well as separatists fighting the central government are active in mineral-rich Baluchistan, with frequent attacks on gas and transport infrastructure and security posts.
On Saturday, the Balochistan Liberation Army, which seeks greater autonomy for Pakistan’s poorest province, claimed responsibility for an attack on a luxury hotel in the Indian Ocean port of Gwadar, one of the focal points of the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Writing by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Mark Heinrich