Separatist Baloch fighters have attacked two military outposts in Pakistan’s restive frontier coastal province and killed at least seven soldiers during the weekend. Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) spokesman Major Gwahram Baloch has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Kech and Awaran Districts.
Speaking to Easternlink from an undisclosed location, Major Gwahram Baloch provided details of the two attacks.
Around 6 PM on Saturday, 6 June BLF fighters attacked a military camp and its outposts at Ata Muhammad Bazaar in Jahoo area of Awaran district with rockets and heavy weapons. At least six Pakistan soldiers were killed and more than twenty others were injured.
BLF fighters calling themselves Sarmachars (freedom fighters) attacked a military post in the Nawran area of Kech district and killed one soldier.
Video of the attack will be released in the media soon, said Major Baloch. He said that attacks on the ‘occupying Pakistan forces would continue till the independence of occupied Balochistan.’
This is the second major attack on Pakistani troops by Baloch fighters in the last one month.
On 7 May, six Pakistan army soldiers including an officer died in a landmine blast in southern Balochistan. The explosion, triggered by a remote-controlled device, went off on the road 14 km from the Pakistan-Iran border.
A Pakistani military spokesperson told Easternlink at that time that the vehicle of the Frontier Corps in South Balochistan was attacked when it was returning from Buleda, a small valley north of Turbat in Kech district.
The military statement said the soldiers had gone to check possible routes used by terrorists to bring in weapons from Iran through the mountainous terrain of Mekran.
The officer was identified by the military as Major Nadeem Abbas Bhatti, resident of Hazabad in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) which claimed responsibility for the blast said Abbas was targetted because he was “directly involved in the formation and leading of so-called death squads of criminal gangs operated by ISI “.
The Baloch Liberation Army and Baloch Liberation Front are part of the Baloch Raaji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), a coalition of a four-armed group. These groups have joined hands to form the rebel coalition like the many rebel groups fighting in Indian Kashmir are organised into a rebel coalition United Jihad Council.
In February this year, guerillas of the Balochistan Liberation Tigers’ targeted the Pakistani Army post in the Singsila area killing 16 army personnel. BLT is the third constituent of the BRAS rebel coalition.
They also seized all weapons and ammunition of the army men and set the army camp on fire.
In a purported video of the incident which had gone viral on social media, the fighters said that two army vehicles were completely destroyed in the ambush.
Chinese Nationals Have Been a Target Too
Chinese nationals have also been targetted by the Baloch fighters since last year after the formation of BRAS.
Five Chinese nationals and several Pakistani guards were killed in an attack and a three-hour siege on the top hotel Pearl Continental by Baloch fighters in the strategic port city of Gwadar in May last year. A hotel spokesman said there were no guests and, few staff due to Ramadan. The separatist Balochistan Liberation Army claimed it carried out the attack.
The group said that the hotel, the centerpiece of a multi-billion-dollar Chinese project, was selected in order to target Chinese and other investors.
BLA oppose Chinese investment, saying it is of little benefit to local people. The hotel sits on a hilltop overlooking the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, which is being developed by China as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a network of roads, railway and pipelines between the two countries.
On Twitter, the Chinese embassy in Pakistan condemned the attack, which came just weeks after gunmen killed 14 people, including 11 military personnel, in the region. The $60 billion CPEC project has seen massive investment in infrastructure across Pakistan, including major roads and the Gwadar port in Balochistan province. Recent days have seen an increase in violence in the province, with BLA stepping attacks against security forces and civilians.
In May last year, at least five people were killed when BLA gunmen attacked a coal mine in the Harnai district of Balochistan. Pakistan blames India and Iran for backing Baloch fighters. Iran is angered by the killing of 27 elite Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) last year by Sunni extremists of the Jundallah group that enjoys the backing of Pakistan’s military intelligence ISI. Pakistan PM Imran Khan rushed to Teheran to placate the Iranian leadership after the attack on Pasdaran after Iran threatened ‘severe retaliatory action.’
Indian PM Narendra Modi raised the Baloch issue during an Independence Day Speech after he assumed power in 2014.
(The story has been published in an arrangement with The Eastern Link.)