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QUETTA: Seven soldiers martyred and at least 13 militants were killed in clashes in Balochistan, the army said Thursday, while separatists claimed dozens more had died in fighting that was still ongoing.

Separatists have stepped up attacks against forces in recent weeks — including with a deadly bomb blast in Lahore last month. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said forces came under attack late Wednesday in the Naushki and Panjgur districts of Balochistan.

A total of seven soldiers martyred and 13 militants were killed in the twin assaults, the army said.

In a statement on their Telegram channel, however, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed to have killed dozens of troops in attacks on security personnel camps.

Late Thursday afternoon the BLA said its assault on state forces in Naushki was “successfully completed” and had “eliminated at least 100 personnel of military including an officer”.

A senior army official called the claim “a lie”.

The BLA said nine of its members were killed “after several hours of continuous battle”, and clashes were still ongoing in Panjgur.

The army said it has encircled four or five militants there, and also released images showing dead fighters with assault rifles, grenades and night-vision goggles.

Attacks repulsed in Naushki, Panjgur; 4 terrorists killed

Balochistan home minister Zia Lango told reporters that the death toll of state forces could be as high as 12, including paramilitary personnel.

At the site of the attack in Naushki shops were shuttered on Thursday morning, with streets deserted.

One local reporter told AFP the mobile phone network was also shut off as police and paramilitary patrols took place.

Prime minister Imran Khan said on Twitter that Pakistan “stands united behind our security forces who continue to give great sacrifices to protect us”.

The latest attacks come a week after ten Pakistani troops were slain in a checkpoint firefight in the Kech district of Balochistan.

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