Quetta (Pakistan) – Gunmen armed with automatic weapons early Sunday attacked a small airport in Pakistan’s remote and restive southwest, killing an officer and abducting another, officials said.

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Up to a dozen attackers torched navigation equipment at Jiwani airport in Gwadar district before entering the building, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.

Gwadar is around 1300 kilometres (800 miles) southwest of Quetta, the capital of the southwestern Baluchistan province.

“The attackers entered the building and killed a superintendent and injured a supervisor critically,” spokesman Pervez George told AFP.

He added that the attackers abducted an engineer before fleeing the site unharmed.

The attack came three days after Pakistan on Thursday issued a high security alert for all the major airports in the country and asked smaller airports to remain vigilant, an official said.

George said all airports in Baluchistan were put on high alert after the attack and had boosted security.

Pakistan airports remain under constant threat as the country’s fighter jets launch airstrikes against militants from these bases.

Last June, 10 Taliban militants laid siege to Karachi airport, killing 27 people.

The military responded by launching a major offensive in the North Waziristan tribal district, considered a bastion of Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

Abdul Hameed Abro, a senior government official in Gwadar, confirmed the incident and told AFP that security forces had launched a search operation to recover the engineer and find the attackers.

Meerak Baloch, a spokesman for the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) — a separatist group in the country’s southwest — claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to AFP.

Baluch separatists demanding more autonomy and control over gas and mineral resources have frequently targeted security forces and police for years.

Pakistan’s largest province — which borders Iran and Afghanistan — is also riven by sectarian strife and Islamist violence.

More than seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.