Authorities in Pakistan say they have found the body of a military officer two days after he was abducted in the country's restive Balochistan Province.
Security forces searching for Lieutenant Colonel Laeeq Baig Mirza found his body in the mountainous Hernai district near Ziarat, a statement on July 14 said. The statement did not elaborate.
The ethnic separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) earlier on July 14 claimed responsibility. The banned group said it had abducted a military officer from a shrine in Balochistan and later killed him. It was a rare attack on an officer of that rank in the region that borders Iran and Afghanistan.
A local journalist told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that militants set up a roadblock on July 12 near the shrine and stopped the vehicle that the army officer was traveling in with his wife and children.
They abducted him after seeing his ID and let his wife and children go.
Neither the BLA nor security forces confirmed that the militants also abducted some of Mirza's friends.
A security official quoted by Reuters said the body of a friend who was abducted with Mirza was also found. The official, who requested anonymity, said the men's bodies were found in different locations. The official added that they were abducted on the Ziarat-Quetta Road about 25 kilometers from Ziarat.
The Pakistan Army's Public Relations Office did not comment on the incident but Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, chief minister of Balochistan Province, condemned it in a statement and called on authorities to investigate.
Balochistan Province has been plagued by sectarian violence, attacks by Islamist militants, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004. Most of the attacks are claimed by the separatist ethnic Baluch or sectarian groups that target the minority Shi'ite Hazaras in the area.
The province is also the recipient of a major chunk of the more than $60 billion investment from China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor program, a flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative.