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THE Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility today for the killing of a journalist whose car exploded in southern Pakistan the day before.
“Last night at 7.52pm, Shahid Zehri was targeted on a main road in the city of Hub,” senior police official Younus Raza confirmed.
The explosion was caused by a magnetic device attached to the underside of the vehicle.
“The [explosives were] right underneath the [driver’s] seat, so when it explodes it obviously goes upwards and destroys the seat as it does so,” he said.
Mr Zheri was a reporter for local news channel Metro 1, covering the south-western province of Balochistan.
The Balochistan Liberation Army accused him of working with the Pakistani security services, but journalists’ associations dismissed the allegations.
“If you have the evidence, then present the evidence that he is not a journalist and is a party to the conflict,” Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists president Shahzada Zulfiqar said.
“We are not ready to accept this without evidence.”
Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest but least developed province, where groups including the Balochistan Human Rights Council accuse security forces of carrying out “a systematic genocide.”
According to government documents, nearly 1,000 civilians and political activists have been killed since 2011, amid accusations of extrajudicial executions.
Many of the bodies have been found dumped in regions including Quetta, Qalat, Khudzar and Makran, with Balochi groups blaming Pakistan’s armed forces.
The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons has said that the true figure is far higher, claiming to have recorded 1,200 cases of dumped bodies and many more that it has been unable to document.
Pakistan’s government has been accused of using jihadist death squads to attack Balochi separatists and journalists say that they have been warned by the security services not to investigate or speak out about the atrocities.
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