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Terrorist attacks in Balochistan: The Indian Factor

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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The restive Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, has witnessed two terrorist attacks within three days.

On Monday (May 13) at least four police personnel were killed and 12 others, including some policemen, wounded in a blast near a mosque in the Satellite Town area of the provincial capital Quetta. The blast took place shortly after a police van arrived at the site to provide security to the people offering taraveeh prayers at the mosque.

"The police vehicle carrying personnel for mosque security was targeted in the blast in which our four personnel of Rapid Response Group (RRG) lost their lives, while the condition of another was stated to be serious," said Quetta DIG Razzaq Cheema while speaking to Dawn. The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the motorcycle bomb blast targeting the police vehicle.

On Sunday (May 11), four hotel employees and a Pakistani navy soldier were killed in terrorist attack and gun battle at a luxury hotel in the southern port city of Gwadar. Three attackers were killed and six other people were wounded, officials said.

A regional separatist group claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter. The Balochistan Liberation Army seeks autonomy for ethnic Baloch tribes in the vast desert province of Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran and also touches the Arabian Sea.

"We claim the responsibility of Gawadar attack on PC hotel. The attack is being carried out by our freedom fighters of Majeed Brigade of BLA," BLA tweeted its spokesperson Jeehand Baloch, as saying.

The Indian News Agency ANI said, the attack on Pearl Continental, reminds the deadly terror attack on two iconic five-star hotels in Mumbai -- Oberoi and Taj Mahal hotel -- on November 26, 2008.

Gwadar, on the Balochistan seacoast, is the hub of a multibillion-dollar Chinese infrastructure project in Pakistan and a high-security priority for the government. The attack came several weeks after 14 Pakistani troops were ambushed and killed on a highway through the region. That attack was also claimed by militant separatists.

Army officials said that gunmen stormed the five-star Pearl Continental Hotel late Saturday afternoon in an attempt to take guests hostage. Stopped by a hotel guard, they fled up a staircase while "firing indiscriminately" at hotel workers.

Balochistan has witnessed a substantial increase in terrorist attacks in recent months.

14 killed after disembarking from buses

On April 18, gunmen killed 14 people after forcing them to disembark from buses. The attackers, who numbered around two dozen, were wearing uniforms from the paramilitary Frontier Corps. They stopped buses on the Makran Coastal Highway.

They identified non-Baloch by checking their identity cards and employee cards. They took them to the nearby mountains and shot them dead after tying their hands. Nine employees of the Navy were among the dead.

The Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS), an alliance of armed ethnic Baloch separatist groups, claimed responsibility for the attack in an emailed statement.

"Those who were targeted carried [identification] cards of the Pakistan Navy and Coast Guards, and they were only killed after they were identified," said Baloch Khan, a BRAS spokesperson.

The Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), an alliance of three Balochi separatist organizations, including the Baloch Liberation Army, Balochistan Liberation Front and Baloch Republican Guard.

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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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