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Baloch fighters attack Pakistani check post near Iran border, kill 17 soldiers

File photo from an attack outside a Sufi shrine in Lahore in 2019 (Photo: Xinhua/Sajjad/IANS)

In a major attack on a Pakistani check post in Kech on Monday, Baloch nationalists are reported to have killed 17 soldiers and set fire to the check post which lies close to the Iran-Pakistan border.

In a media statement, the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) has claimed responsibility for the attack. Spokesperson for the group, Gohram Baloch said the BLF fighters attacked the security forces’ outpost in Dasht, Kech with heavy weaponry, reports The Balochistan Times.

The BLF spokesperson said that 13 soldiers were killed while one managed to escape. The Baloch fighters also ambushed a convoy of reinforcements and inflicted more casualties on Pakistani soldiers.

The BLF said that it lost just one fighter, Mumtaz Baloch and its fighters took away the weapons of the slain Pakistani troops.

The Pakistani mainstream media blanked out the news about the Kech attack, possibly due to ongoing cricket matches taking place in the country, as suggested by a Twitter user. However, the social media is rife with information about 10-17 Pakistani soldiers being killed and the check post being set on fire.

This attack comes on the heels of last week's bomb blast in Anarkali market in Lahore, Punjab, which was the handiwork of Baloch nationalists, who, till then, had mostly confined their attacks to Balochistan barring a handful of occasions.

Pakistan watcher and geopolitical analyst Mark Kinra briefed India Narrative about the situation in Balochistan. Kinra said: "There seems to be an uptick in armed attacks by Baloch Nationalists against Pakistan in the last two weeks. A common point is that all these attacks are perpetrated under the Balochistan Raaji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS). Baloch armed groups have limited their attacks to Balochistan with the exception of UBA’s Islamabad attack in 2014, the Karachi Stock Exchange Attack in 2020 and the Lahore blast in 2022".

Regarding the attack in Lahore in which three civilians were killed, Kinra says that not all Baloch separatists are pleased with the Lahore blasts. "The leaders of the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and United Baloch Army (UBA), Brahmdagh Bugti and Mehran Marri have condemned Lahore blasts as these attacks targeted civilians and are against international norms. In 2020 too, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) leader had condemned the attack on the Karachi Stock Exchange".

He adds that various groups working under BRAS are splinter organizations of the same names under different commanders and the condemnation of the Lahore attacks showcases the rift among Baloch nationalists in terms of strategy and coherent approach towards the struggle for an independent Balochistan.

"The BLA group under BRAS has vowed to take up the attacks to Punjab. With the creation of BNA and the progression of BRAS, it was understood that attacks will increase. But an interesting development is that the Pakistani media has said that some of the Baloch armed groups have shifted their bases to Iran from Afghanistan. After a long time, they have not blamed India for some of the attacks by the Baloch nationalists", says Kinra.

The Baloch community is striving for independence from Pakistan as it feels that Pakistan usurped it by force after independence from the British. Pakistan too has pressed its intelligence and full military might against the Baloch separatists.