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UAE Deputy PM's bustard hunting convoy attacked in Pak

December 20, 2016 16:25 IST

Several members of the UAE royal family, including deputy prime minister Prince Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on a Houbara bustard hunting mission, had a lucky escape on Tuesday after their convoy was attacked by gunmen in Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province.

The team of hunters was unhurt in the attack that happened in Guchak area of Panjgur, however, two vehicles of the convoy were damaged in the firing, police said.

"Around 10 armed men came on motorcycles and surrounded the convoy and opened fire however they fled when the Frontier Corps personnel accompanying the convoy opened fire on them," a police official said.

The area was cordoned off and the convoy was taken to its camp.

Panjgur Deputy Commissioner Habibur Rehman confirmed the incident.

A spokesman for the banned Balochistan Libration Front claimed responsibility of the attack, the Dawn reported.

The hunting of the Houbara bustard and falconry has been a significant feature of Pakistan's relations with the oil-rich middle-eastern countries as falconry is not merely a sport for Arabs, but also one of their most cherished customs and recognised as a cultural heritage by UNESCO.

However, the sport has not been free of controversies and earlier this month, authorities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa imposed a province-wide ban on the hunting of the Houbara bustard, a prized migratory bird designated as a protected species by conservationists.

The KP government notification came after news channels had reported that the federal government had allowed Qatari Royal Prince Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali al Thani to hunt the bird.

Many wealthy Arab sheikhs from the middle-eastern countries come to Baluchistan every year in winter to hunt the vulnerable migratory bird whose meat is prized as an aphrodisiac.

The indiscriminate hunting of Houbara bustard has led to an alarming decline in their population.

The species was declared vulnerable after its global population dwindled by more than 60 per cent.

Image used for representation purpose only. Photograph: Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters

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