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Security situation deteriorates in Pakistan's volatile Balochistan province

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On Sunday, January 3, Unidentified gunmen stormed a coal mine near the town of Mach, about 50km east of Quetta, pulling out ethnic Hazaras - who are members of the country's minority Shia community and have distinctive facial features - from their residential quarters.

They then marched them to the nearby mountains where they opened fire on them, killing ten people, according to local security officials.

The Deash group (ISIS or ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the attack in a post on the group's Amaq news service. A picture accompanying the claim showed two armed men standing over three bodies lying face down on the ground, with an ISIL flag hanging in the background.

On Monday protesters gathered on a highway in the western part of the provincial capital of Quetta to protest against the killing of the miners a day earlier, the coffins of their relatives laid out on the ground before them.

This is the latest episode of terrorist activity in Balochistan, an important region for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with ambitious project to connect China's Xinjiang province with the deep-sea Pakistani port of Gwadar in Balochistan.

Militant Raid Kills 7 Pakistani Soldiers in Baluchistan

Tellingly, on December 27 a militant raid in southwestern Baluchistan province had killed at least seven soldiers.The pre-dawn attack in the Harnai district targeted a paramilitary Frontier Corps checkpoint. The casualties occurred during the ensuing "intense" exchange of fire with the "terrorists," said a military statement. The attack followed the killing of 10 terrorists by the security forces five days ago in the province.

Not surprisingly, Balochistan Liberation Front spokesperson Major Guhram Baloch while taking to media from an unknown location said that yesterday morning at 11:00 o'clock the armed men Baloch (Sarmachars) ambushed on convoy of Pakistan Army at Goragani Kaor on CPEC route between Hoshab and Tijaban. A vehicle got damaged under hard this attack two occupying Army personnel were killed and another one injured. Guhram Baloch said that such kind of attack will be continue till the independence of free Balochistan. The BLA claim was posted on facebook.

On December 22, Pakistan's Security forces gunned down 10 militants during an intense exchange of fire in Balochistan's Awaran district, the Inter-Services Public Relations said adding: An intelligence-based operation was conducted in Awaran's Gwargo which led them to the terrorists who were also involved in the firing incident that had resulted in Lance Naik's killing on December 20.

Convoy attack kills 14 in Balochistan

On October 15, unidentified gunmen killed at least 14 people in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan after ambushing a convoy of vehicles travelling on a major highway towards the country's largest city, Karachi. The vehicles were travelling to Karachi from the port town of Gwadar when they were ambushed near the small town of Ormara, about 250km west of their destination. The convoy of vehicles was carrying employees of the state-owned Oil and Gas Development Corporation Limited (OGDCL). The dead included security forces personnel who were accompanying the convoy, according to officials.

In a statement, the separatist Baloch Raaji Aajoi-e-Sangar (BRAS) claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming it had "completely destroyed" the OGDCL convoy. Baloch Khan, a spokesperson for BRAS, claimed the convoy was targeted because OGDCL was "exploiting Baloch resources."Claiming to fight "for the freedom of Balochistan," the BRAS spokesman warned OGDCL that any projects to drill for new oil and gas supplies in the province "would be dealt with iron fists." He added: "We also want to inform China that Baloch nation completely rejects all Chinese agreements with the Pakistani occupying forces and they stand null and void."

These terrorist attacks had raised questions about the security of the port and the safety of the Chinese workforce engaged in CPEC-related projects.

Gwadar port sealed off to protect Chinese interests

Amid growing security concerns in Balochistan, authorities plan to fence off the entire 24-square-kilometer area surrounding the Gwadar seaport to secure what they call the "crown jewel" of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), F. M. Shakil of Asia Times has reported.

Work on erecting barbed-wire fencing around Gwadar's sensitive parts, which is planned to be complete in phases, has already started. Authorities plan to have 15,000 acres of land secured with iron barriers in the first phase of the project.

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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