Pakistani officials said Sunday that gunmen ambushed a vehicle transporting navy personnel in the southwestern Gwadar district, killing at least one sailor and seriously wounding two others.
The assailants targeted the Pakistani navy vehicle with automatic weapons Saturday evening near the coastal town of Jiwani, Zahoor Buledi, a minister for the province of Baluchistan, where Gwadar is located, told VOA.
The district is home to a Chinese-built and run deepwater port, a centerpiece of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Buledi condemned the incident as a terrorist act, saying personnel from the navy’s Quick Response Force were on board the vehicle.
The Baluchistan Liberation Army, which the United States has declared a global terrorist group, took responsibility for the attack. It claimed the shooting killed four navy officers and wounded two others, although the group’s claims are often inflated.
The provincial minister blamed “enemies of the state” for being behind the attack, saying it was carried out in response to current security operations against terrorist hideouts in Baluchistan.
On Friday, a roadside bomb explosion elsewhere in the Pakistani province killed five laborers and wounded five other men, including two security personnel.
There was no claim of responsibility for that attack, though authorities blame the BLA and its allied separatist groups for plotting such attacks against workers from other ethnicities who come from other parts of Pakistan to work in the natural resource-rich province.
The BLA claimed responsibility for an attack on a five-star hotel in the vicinity of the Gwadar port two years ago that killed five people.
The CPEC trade corridor, the fast-growing extension of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative is meant to give the shortest possible access from southwestern China to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan.
China has spent nearly $30 billion, mostly in direct investments, installing power plants building the Gwadar port, and upgrading and constructing road networks in Pakistan, including in largely underdeveloped Baluchistan.
Pakistani officials accused rival India of supporting and funding Baluch militants in its bid to subvert the CPEC, charges New Delhi denies