Alleged Baloch Liberation Army Militants Accused of Killing 27

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By Mujeeb Ahmed and Sarah Burke

Two suspected militants have been arrested for a spate of targeted killings including the murder of a veteran journalist and two colleagues last year in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.

Both men confessed to the slayings of bureau chief Irshad Mastoi, reporter Ghulam Rasool and accountant Muhammas Younus at the offices of Online International News Network in August last year, Home Minister Mir Safaraz Bugti and Inspector General of Police Muhammad Imlish told a press conference on Tuesday.

The officials said the two men are allegedly responsible for a range of terrorist attacks including targeted killings, bombings and grenade attacks which have left a total of 27 people dead and 63 injured.

They alleged the duo have been members of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) since 2012 and had intentions to attack prominent politicians prior to their arrest. They were due to appear in front of an anti-terrorism court in Quetta, officials said.

Balochistan has been in the throes of a renewed insurgency since 2006, where sectarian and separatist militants like the BLA have been fighting the Pakistani government in a bid for independence.

Bugti told reporters that Tuesday’s arrests are the first made in connection with the murder of journalists in Balochistan, where 24 have been killed in the past decade.

Journalists face threats from a range of insurgent groups in Balochistan including pro-Taliban groups, separatist militants and state-sponsored militants, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a U.S.-based press freedom advocacy group.