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Statue Of Pakistan's Founder Blown Up, Soldier Killed In Balochistan

A statue of Pakistan's founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was destroyed in Balochistan while a paramilitary soldier was killed in separate attacks in the restive southwestern province.

Jinnah's statue, which was erected at the Marine Drive square in the coastal city of Gwadar in June, was destroyed on September 26 when an explosive device placed beneath the monument blew up, official sources told RFE/RL.

According to a text circulated via WhatsApp to journalists in Quetta, the provincial capital, the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The Dawn newspaper reported that the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) also claimed responsibility.

The BRA and BLF are among several separatist armed groups fighting for Balochistan's independence from Pakistan.

Calling the destruction of Jinnah's statue a terrorist attack, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan said in a statement that those involved would be arrested and punished.

Also on September 26, one Frontier Corps personnel was killed and another two wounded in an attack on their checkpost in the Mach area of Balochistan.

The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), another separatist group active in the province, claimed responsibility for that attack.

The assault came a day after four Frontier Corps troops were killed in a roadside bomb explosion in the Harnai area of Balochistan.

One captain and a lieutenant suffered injuries in the bombing, which was also claimed by the BLA.

Baluch separatist groups have increased their attacks on Pakistani security forces in recent months.

Ethnic Baluch politicians and separatists accuse the Pakistani state of exploiting their resource-rich province, a charge rejected by Islamabad.

China is developing the seaport of Gwadar, an effort that is part of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

The deep-sea port is a key component of the Belt and Road Initiative, a multinational infrastructure and development plan pushed by Beijing throughout much of Central and South Asia.

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