Pak army commander killed, Baloch rebels suspected

A Pakistan Army helicopter carrying Quetta Corps commander Lt Gen Sarfraz Ali and five others crashed late Monday night in the Lasbela area of Balochistan, according to inputs received from that country. All six on board are believed to be dead and, while the crash is being investigated, there is very strong and credible suspicion the chopper may have been shot by down Baloch rebels.

Inputs have said the Balochistan Liberation Army – who have made no statement yet – may have targeted the helicopter because the Quetta Corps commander – a high-ranking figure who handles counter-insurgency in the area and protects the border with south Afghanistan – was on board.

Reports from Pakistan identify the other five killed as Brigadier Amjad Haneef (DG Coast Guard), Major Saeed (the pilot), Major Talha (the co-pilot) and Naik Mudasir (crew member).

According to further reports, the chopper lost contact with ground control, shortly after taking off from a base in Balochistan’s Lasbela district.

Search ops for the missing aircraft area underway in the southwestern regions of Balochistan.

A senior police official told a local media outlet that the mountainous terrain in the sparsely populated region is hampering attempts to locate the wreckage and bodies, or survivors.

Pak prime minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed concern and asked the nation to pray for the soldiers.

“The disappearance of Army helicopter from Balochistan is alarming. The entire nation prays to Allah Almighty for the safety, security and return of these sons of the country who came out to help the flood victims. God willing…” the prime minister tweeted in Urdu.

ormer PM Imran Khan extended his prayers for the safety of those onboard the downed chopper, tweeting: “Disturbing news of army aviation helicopter missing and praying for all those on board.”

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