QUETTA  - Gunmen opened fire on Balochistan Levies personnel escorting a Spanish cyclist in Dringar area of Mastung district Wednesday, killing seven securitymen and wounding the Spaniard and two Levies men. One of the attackers was also killed in the gunbattle sparked by the ambush.

The attack on the cyclist, who had just arrived from Iran and whose blog said he was trying to cycle around the world, just a day after militants in the same region killed 28 people and injured around 40 others in an attack on a bus convoy of Shia pilgrims returning from Iran.

Officials said the attackers tried to kidnap the cyclist, who suffered minor injuries. According to the sources, the attacker who was killed by the Levies men appeared to be a ‘foreigner’, a term used by local security circles for Arabs, Chechens or Central Asian militants who had joined al-Qaeda and latter also developed links with Afghan and Pakistan Taliban.

Mastung Assistant Commissioner Shafqat Shahwani told the media persons that a Levies mobile was escorting the Spanish cyclist who was coming from Taftan, a border town of Iran, and he was attacked in the morning on the national highway in Dringar area, about 45km from capital Quetta.

“Armed men opened indiscriminate fire at the security personnel and wanted to kidnap the foreigner,” said Sanaullah, a local official at Mastung Levies station, adding that some explosive material was recovered from the body of the dead militant which was defused by the BDS team. Rest of the attackers fled the scene after retaliation by Levies personnel, he said.

Following the attack, security forces along with two helicopters reached the spot and started a manhunt in the area. The deceased Levies men were Naib Rasaldar Gulam Farooq, Dafadar Abdul Wahid, Spoey Ali Bakash, Spoey Babo Noor Ahmed, Sepoy Hafiz Zahoor Ahmed and Sepoy Abdul Mutalib. The injured Spaniard was identified as Francisio Javier and injured Levies personnel as Niaz Muhammad, Shafi Mohamamd and Saeed Ahmed.

Two young Czech women travelling at the same route by bus were kidnapped in March last year and are yet to be recovered. The Spanish cyclist reached Mastung on Tuesday evening but was stopped from proceeding towards Quetta after the suicide attack on Shia pilgrims.