ISPR denies separatist
BRAS claim shooting
down Pak military chopper
as propaganda, fake news

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BRAS claims shooting downing “low flying helicopter” with anti-aircraft weapon, provided no evidence, Reuters also not verified

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QUETTA: Separatist insurgents in Pakistan’s resource-rich Balochistan province said they shot down a military helicopter that went down during a flood relief operation on Monday, killing all six on board including a top army commander.

A senior military official dismissed the insurgents’ claim as propaganda and fake news. The military said the helicopter crashed during bad weather. The commander of the south Pakistan-based 12 Corps, Lt. Gen. Sarfraz Ali, was among those killed on the helicopter.
‘Pakistan Today’ without naming but with a picture of ISPR Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar quoted him denying vehemently the report of BRAS.

According to Reuter news agency and an Arab News report, the Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS), an umbrella group of Baloch insurgent groups, said in a statement sent to Reuters news agency late on Tuesday that its fighters shot down the “low flying helicopter” with an anti-aircraft weapon. The group provided no evidence and Reuters could not independently verify the claim.

Wreckage of military helicopter found at Lasbela, Balochistan.

Ethnic Baloch militants have for decades waged an insurgency against the Pakistani government in the southwestern province, complaining that its rich gas and mineral resource are unfairly exploited to the benefit of other parts of the country.

The province is also home to deep-water Gawadar port, which neighbouring China has been developing as part of a multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to link road and sea routes with Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. The insurgents oppose those projects and try to attack them.

Lt. General Sarfraz Ali and other officers

According to authorities, the helicopter left Uthal at 5:10 p.m. on Monday and was scheduled to arrive in Karachi at 6:05 p.m. but lost communication with the air traffic controller.

“A Pakistan army aviation helicopter which was on flood relief operations in Lasbela, Balochistan lost contact with ATC. 6 individuals were on board including Commander 12 Corps who was supervising flood relief operations in Balochistan. The search operation is underway,” Tweeted Director-General (DG) ISPR on Monday, August 1.

Army dismisses ‘propaganda’

A senior military official dismissed the claim as “propaganda” and “fake news”. The military said the helicopter crashed during bad weather.

The aircraft had lost contact with the air-traffic control tower in Balochistan on Monday evening while flying on a relief mission in a flood-hit area in the southwest.

A Pakistani military helicopter similar crashed in Lasbela, Balochistan.

The helicopter was part of aid efforts in flood-hit Balochistan, where rains and flash floods since June have killed nearly 150 people.

The government is currently using helicopters and boats to evacuate flood victims from various parts of the country, including Balochistan and Rajanpur, a district in Punjab.

Statement of BRAS

In a statement released on Wednesday, the rebel group claimed responsibility for targeting and downing the low-flying Pakistan military helicopter in the mountainous areas of Windar and Noorani in Balochistan.

According to reports, the wreckage of the Pakistan Army helicopter carrying senior military officers that had gone missing on August 1 was found in Musa Goth, Windar, Lasbela on Tuesday, August 2. Six individuals who were on board including Commander 12 Corps were found dead.

Letter of BRAS

The Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS) spokesperson Baloch Khan, however, said in a statement on Wednesday, “Freedom fighters of BRAS targeted a low flying helicopter of Pakistan military. The targeted helicopter crashed near Moosa Goth in Dareji.”

“In the attack, carried out with anti-aircraft guns, the helicopter was badly damaged and later completely destroyed. All six enemy personnel on board the flight were killed in the attack. They included Core Commander 12 Core Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali, Director General Coast Guard Major General Amjad, Brigadier Khalid, pilot Major Saeed, co-pilot Talha and crew chief Naik Muddasir”, the statement by BRAS added.

The spokesperson for BRAS asserted that the helicopter was the target of its fighters and added that Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali, who had continued to serve as Director General of Military Intelligence and Inspector General of the Frontier Corps South of Balochistan, was directly involved in forced disappearances and the Baloch genocide. Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali was one of the six Pakistani commanders who were on board the helicopter, supervising the flood relief operations in Lasbela, Balochistan.

“Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS) will continue to carry lethal attacks against the enemy (Pakistan army) until the full withdrawal of the enemy forces and the liberation of Baloch motherland”, the statement of BRAS added.

“In the attack, carried out with anti-aircraft guns, the helicopter was badly damaged and later completely destroyed. All six enemy personnel on board the flight were killed in the attack. They included Core Commander 12 Core Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali, Director General Coast Guard Major General Amjad, Brigadier Khalid, pilot Major Saeed, co-pilot Talha and crew chief Naik Muddasir”, the statement by BRAS added.

The spokesperson for BRAS asserted that the helicopter was the target of its fighters and added that Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali, who had continued to serve as Director General of Military Intelligence and Inspector General of the Frontier Corps South of Balochistan, was directly involved in forced disappearances and the Baloch genocide. Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali was one of the six Pakistani commanders who were on board the helicopter, supervising the flood relief operations in Lasbela, Balochistan.

“Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS) will continue to carry lethal attacks against the enemy (Pakistan army) until the full withdrawal of the enemy forces and the liberation of Baloch motherland”, the statement of BRAS added.

Notably, in February this year, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) had attacked two posts in Pakistan’s southwest province neutralizing more than 100 Pakistani personnel and destroying a large part of their camps. The BLA issued an official statement confirming that the major parts of both the camps were still under their control. Then too the Pakistan military’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) denied the intensity of the attack and declared a reduced number of deaths.

Wreckage of helicopter found

Meanwhile, search teams found the wreckage of a Pakistan Army helicopter that went down the previous day in the nation’s flood-stricken Balochistan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Tuesday.

The aircraft had lost contact with the air-traffic control tower in Balochistan on Monday evening while flying on a relief mission in a flood-hit area in the southwest.

In a statement on Twitter, the military’s media wing said “the wreckage of unfortunate heli[copter] which was on flood relief operations found in Musa Goth, Windar, Lasbela.” “All six officers and soldiers including Lt. Gen. Sarfaraz Ali embraced shahadat [martyrdom],” it added. Lt. Gen. Ali was supervising relief operations in the province.

Gen. Ali, commander of Quetta Corps, Brigadier Amjad Hanif, Brigadier Muhammad Khalid, Major Saeed Ahmed, Major Talha Manan and Naik Mudassar Fayyaz were aboard the ill-fated chopper.

The army maintained that the accident had occurred due to bad weather as per initial investigations. The statement said that, according to an initial probe, the crash happened due to bad weather.

General Faraz and other military officers

General Sarfaraz was a veteran of military operations conducted during the war on terror and was awarded the Tamgha-e-Basalat twice for gallantry on the battlefield.

He is survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters. A native of Lahore, the general officer was commissioned 6 Azad Kashmir Regiment in March 1989 and served for 33 years in Pakistan Army.

Major General Amjab Hanif, director general Pakistan Coast Guard, is survived by his wife and a daughter and two sons. He belonged to Rawlakot in AJK and was commissioned in the 19 Azad Kashmir Regiment in April 1994 and served for 29 years in Pakistan Army.

Brigadier Muhammad Khalid, commanding the 12 Corps engineers, is survived by three daughters and three sons. Hailing from Faisalabad, he was commissioned in the 20 Engineer Battalion in 1994 and served for 29 years.

Major Saeed, the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft, was married with a son and a daughter. He hailed from Larkana. His co-pilot, Major Muhammad Talha Manan was married and is survived by two sons. Crew Chief Naik Mudassir Fayyaz was a native of Narowal and is survived by his wife.

President Alvi calls COAS

President Dr Arif Alvi called Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to offer his condolences for the martyrs of the Balochistan helicopter incident.

President Alvi expressed deep grief and sorrow over the martyrdom of the military officials and soldiers and extended his condolences to their families.

“The dutiful sons of the nation were engaged in flood relief work in Balochistan, and embraced martyrdom while working with great zeal, hard work and dedication to fulfil their duty and serve the nation,” he stated.

The president mentioned his meeting with Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Sarfaraz Ali during his visit to Gwadar, recalling that he found Sarfaraz to be a “very capable, intelligent, and dutiful officer”. According to the COAS, bad weather during the rescue operations and reduced visibility led to the incident.