Pakistan port attack kills two soldiers, eight militants, say officials

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the assault in a statement

Reuters
Published : 21 March 2024, 04:08 AM
Updated : 21 March 2024, 04:08 AM

Pakistani security forces on Wednesday repulsed a gun and bomb attack by militants on a complex outside the strategic port of Gwadar, which killed all eight militants and two soldiers, officials said.

China has invested heavily in the mineral-rich southwestern province of Balochistan, including developing Gwadar, despite a decades-long separatist insurgency.

Armed with guns and bombs, the militants stormed the complex just outside the port that houses offices of government departments, intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces, said Saeed Ahmed Umrani, a government commissioner.

The militants detonated a number of bombs before launching a shooting attack and trying to storm the complex, he told Reuters.

In a post on social media platform X, Provincial Chief Minister Sarfraz Bugti said eight militants were "neutralised by security forces." He added: "The message is loud & clear. Whosoever chooses to use violence will see no mercy from the state."

Two soldiers were also killed, said a Pakistan army statement, which said the attack was successfully thwarted by the troops deployed at the facility.

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the most prominent of several separatist groups in Balochistan, claimed responsibility for the assault in a statement, saying its militants attacked Pakistan intelligence agencies' offices.

The BLA has previously been involved in attacks on Pakistani and Chinese interests in the region and elsewhere.

The deep-water port is key to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that also encompasses roads and energy projects and is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative.

Chinese targets have previously come under attack by several Baloch militant groups in Pakistan, who say they have been fighting for decades for a larger share in the regional wealth of mines and minerals denied by the central government in Islamabad.