Pakistani officials: Body found of second abducted hostage

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QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Separatist insurgents in Pakistan's restive southwestern Baluchistan province have killed a hostage from the family of an officer who was abducted and killed earlier this week, officials said Saturday.

Baluchistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by the outlawed Baluchistan Liberation Army, or BLA, and other separatist groups demanding independence from the central government in Islamabad. Although the government says it has quelled the insurgency, violence in the province has persisted.

The BLA, which was designated a terrorist group by the United States in 2019, had claimed responsibility earlier this week for abducting an officer and his relatives on Tuesday while they were traveling on a remote highway near the town of Ziarat, 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Quetta, the provincial capital.

The family was headed to a tourist resort in the area. The attackers later that night freed all the hostages except Col. Laeeq Mirza and his cousin. The colonel's body was found on Thursday during a search operation by security forces.

The body of the cousin, Umar Javed, was found on Saturday, dumped in a drain in the area, according to two Pakistani intelligence officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Baluchistan provincial home minister Mir Zia Lango condemned Javed's killing and expressed the authorities' determination to “eliminate terrorism" from the province.

The military said in an earlier statement that efforts were underway to find and rescue Javed. During the search operations, security forces killed nine insurgents, the statement added.

Jaend Baluch, a purported spokesman for BLA, denied any casualties among the separatists.

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