Baloch militants attack Pakistan’s Gwadar Port; 7 terrorists killed

Balochistan Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the attack; the BLA is opposed to China’s investments in the province and accuses China and Pakistan of exploitating the region’s resources

Updated - March 20, 2024 10:15 pm IST

Published - March 20, 2024 06:26 pm IST - Karachi

A general view of Gwadar port, Pakistan.

A general view of Gwadar port, Pakistan. | Photo Credit: Reuters


 Baloch insurgents armed with automatic assault weapons stormed the Gwadar Port Authority complex in Pakistan’s Balochistan province on March 20, but security forces foiled the attack and claimed killing at least seven militants.

The separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) is opposed to China’s investments in Balochistan and accuses China and Pakistan of exploitation of the resource-rich province, a charge rejected by the authorities.

Gwadar Senior Superintendent of Police Zohaib Mohsin told the media that “seven attackers have been killed and the firing has stopped”.

Commissioner Makran Division Saeed Ahmed Umrani confirmed the attack and said the attackers entered the Gwadar Port Authority building and the clearing operation was going on. Earlier, local media reported that eight terrorists were killed in clashes. So far there was no word on killing any security person or civilian.

The United Nations Department for Safety and Security said in a statement that seven personnel from three UN agencies based in Gwadar and two UN agencies on missions were “safe and accounted for”.

The Majeed Brigade of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack. It is the suicide squad of the BLA and mostly targets security forces and Chinese interests.

Named after a guard of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was killed while attempting to assassinate him, it was formed in 2011. Mr. Bhutto had initiated an operation against miscreants in the province in the 1970s.

Balochistan Chief Minister Sarfraz Bugti hailed security agencies for their response against the attackers, saying that “the message is loud and clear.” He added that “whosoever chooses to use violence will see no mercy from the State.”

Insurgency in Balochistan

Balochistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, is home to a long-running violent insurgency. Baloch insurgent groups have previously carried out several attacks targeting the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Thousands of Chinese personnel are working in Pakistan on several projects being carried out under the aegis of the CPEC.

Balochistan faces a double threat by the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Baloch militants.

The attack comes on a day when Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asserted that his government will not tolerate any acts of cross-border terrorism.

The incidents of terrorism have increased in Pakistan since the Taliban took over the government in Kabul, dashing hopes in Islamabad that a friendly government in Afghanistan would help to tackle militancy.

According to an annual security report issued by the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Pakistan witnessed 1,524 violence-related fatalities and 1,463 injuries from 789 terror attacks and counter-terror operations in 2023 — marking a record six-year high.

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