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A Pakistani army helicopter conducts a search operation following an attack by armed separatist group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) at central Bolan district in Balochistan province on Jan. 30.BANARAS KHAN/Getty Images

A group of insurgents armed with rockets, explosives and guns attacked security facilities in southwestern Pakistan before dawn Tuesday, killing at least four members of the security forces and two civilians, officials and the military said. At least nine insurgents were also killed in the ensuing shootout.

The outlawed Baluchistan Liberation Army quickly claimed responsibility for the rocket and gun attacks, saying that two of its fighters were killed. It was an apparent retaliation for strikes by Pakistan on what it said were insurgent hideouts in Iran earlier in January.

Authorities initially said the overnight attacks, in Mach district in Baluchistan, were foiled without casualties, but two local security officials and the military said four security forces and two civilians were killed and 15 members of the Pakistani security forces were wounded in multiple rocket and gun attacks.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. According to a military statement, the attackers included suicide bombers and the security forces quickly responded and killed nine assailants.

It did not say who the slain insurgents were, but BLA threatened to launch attacks on security forces in Baluchistan and elsewhere following Pakistan’s Jan. 18 strikes on their camps in Iran, which killed at least nine people. Those strikes were made in response to an Iranian strike in Pakistan that appeared to target a different Baluch militant group with similar separatist goals.

The overnight attacks came hours after top Iranian diplomat Hossein Amirabdollahian held talks in Islamabad with his Pakistani counterpart, Jalil Abbas Jilani, in an effort to resolve the diplomatic crisis that began with the exchange of cross-border strikes. The two countries vowed to work together against insurgents operating in their border areas.

Also Tuesday, a roadside bomb targeting supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan killed four people and wounded five others in Sibi, a district in Baluchistan province, local hospital official Shahid Babar said. The bombing happened when Khan supporters on motorcycles were passing through a bazaar to attend a rally ahead of next month’s election.

A Pakistani court on Tuesday convicted Khan of revealing official secrets and handed him a 10-year sentence.

No one claimed responsibility and police said they are still investigating. Baluch insurgents usually don’t target election rallies, and such attacks have previously been claimed by Pakistani militants.

In recent years, Pakistani security forces have struggled to rein in surging militancy in Baluchistan, where the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups have a presence and often attack security personnel.

Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, as well as Iran’s neighbouring Sistan and Baluchestan province, have faced a low-level insurgency by Baluch nationalists for more than two decades.

Although the government says it has quelled the insurgency, violence in the province has persisted.

Iran and Pakistan share a largely lawless 900-kilometer (560-mile) border across which smugglers and militants freely roam. Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, where Baloch nationalists, Islamic militants and the Islamic State group have claimed responsibility for attacks on security forces in recent years.

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