Six security officials killed in attack in southwestern Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Six security officials were killed in an attack in southwestern Pakistan on Friday when their convoy came under heavy firing in a mountainous area near the border with Iran.

Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan province has been hit by a number of attacks on security personnel but the number of large scale incidents has decreased significantly since 2016.

The province’s information minister Zahoor Ahmed Buledi told Reuters that six members of the Frontier Corps paramilitary force in charge of security in the region were killed in “heavy” firing along a mountainous stretch of road in the Kech district.

Fourteen others were wounded. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Islamist militants linked to the Taliban, al Qaeda and Islamic State have been operating in the province, which borders Iran as well as Afghanistan. It also has an indigenous ethnic Baluch insurgency fighting the central government.

Last month, three men from the separatist Baloch Liberation Army stormed the Chinese embassy in Pakistan’s southern metropolis Karachi, killing four people including two policemen.

They were shot and killed by police before they could force their way in in a car packed with explosives.

Baluchistan, which has rich mineral and natural gas reserves but remains Pakistan’s poorest province, is the site of a long-running rebellion by separatists who argue the state is taking over their lands and have targeted Chinese-funded projects.

In July, a suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a crowded election rally in the province, killing 128 people including electoral candidate Siraj Raisani. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast.

Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Richard Balmforth