By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - Suspected militants ambushed a security forces' vehicle in southwestern Balochistan province, killing four paramilitary troops on Thursday, according to police.
The incident took place in the western outskirts of Quetta, the capital of militancy-plagued Balochistan, provincial police chief Moazzam jah Ansari told reporters.
“Three to four gunmen ambushed a Frontier Corps vehicle, which was on a routine patrol. As a result, four troops were martyred,” Ansari said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspected Taliban militants and Baloch separatists have been active in the region.
The large Balochistan province, which is on border with neighboring Iran and Afghanistan, is strategically important because of its rich presence of copper, zinc and natural gas.
It has been beset by violence for over six decades, with separatists claiming it was forcibly incorporated into Pakistan upon the end of the British rule in 1947.
With its 600-kilometer (373-mile) long coastline, the mineral-rich province that makes up 42 percent of Pakistan, is a key route to $54 billion mega project -- the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) -- which, aims to connect China's northwestern Xinxiang province with Balochistan’s Gwadar port through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil and gas.
The economic corridor will not only provide China cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.