Militants kill soldier near airport in southwestern Pakistan

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QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Suspected militants opened fire on troops at a security post near an airport in southwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing a soldier before fleeing the scene, the military said.

The attack happened in the Turbat district in Baluchistan province, a military statement said. Security forces have launched a search operation in the region to trace and arrest the attackers, it added. The slain soldier was identified as Aqeel Abbas.

No group immediately claimed responsibility but previous such attacks have been blamed on small separatist groups that have been carrying out a long-running insurgency demanding independence from the central government in Islamabad. The Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic State group also have a presence in Baluchistan.

Although Pakistan's military says it has quelled insurgency, isolated attacks hon troops ave continued.