QUETTA: The attack on the Jinnah’s residency in Ziarat has been claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), say media reports.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar revealed that the residency had been attacked by five militants, who had removed the Pakistan flag and raised the BLA flag in its place.
A rocket attack had killed a policeman on Saturday and gutted an historic summer retreat used by Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the resource-rich province of Balochistan, only days after a new government vowed to end a guerrilla war there.
Three rockets propelled grenades slammed into the heritage Quaid Azam Residency in the hill town of Ziarat in the early hours of the morning, district commissioner Nadeem Tahir said. A policeman died and the ensuing blaze tore through the two-story wooden building, damaging several other houses nearby.
“It seems that rockets have been fired from nearby mountains,’ a police official said.
The vast province bordering Iran and Afghanistan contains largely unexplored copper and gold deposits but has suffered a long-running armed independence movement, and what rights groups call a campaign of forced disappearances.
Balochistan supplies much of the natural gas feeding Pakistan’s lifeline textile industry in eastern Punjab province, and is home to a deep water port at Gwadar.
Saturday’s attack was the first since a new chief minister of the province took office last week. He has urged security forces, who deny wrongdoing, to end rights abuses and support his hopes of kindling talks with the insurgents, who are seeking an independent homeland.
On the day chief minister Abdul Malik took oath, five bullet-riddled bodies were found in the province.
The discoveries were seen by many as a message that forces were intent on continuing what human rights groups have dubbed a systematic campaign of “kill-and-dump”.
Jinnah stayed in the Quaid Azam Residency as he tried to recover from a lung disease in 1948, a year after his successful campaign to separate Pakistan from India. He died in Karachi soon after. The building is a national heritage site.