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Baloch fighters embarrass Pakistan military—continue to engage troops in Panjgur camp after 36 hours

The site of the Noshki attack (Photo: @bahotbluch)

Baloch group—Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), has claimed that it has killed nearly 170 Pakistani security personnel in two massive attacks it launched on the Noshki and Panjgur camps of Pakistan's Frontier Corps (FC) on Wednesday night.

On Friday morning, more than 36 hours after the initial attack, the BLA said that it continued to hold on to the Panjgur camp of the FC where it inflicted over 100 casualties with three of its fighters dying in the operation. The BLA added that it ceased operations in Noshki on Thursday evening after having killed nearly 70 Pakistani soldiers where it lost nine men.

The FC is tasked with protecting Pakistan's borders. Its Noshki and Panjgur camps are located in Balochistan with almost 460 kms separating the two—an indication that the BLA attacked the forces in a planned and coordinated assault.

Pakistan has reportedly pressed helicopter gunships and armoured personnel carriers into operations against the Baloch nationalists. The government has imposed a curfew in view of the heavy fighting. It has also withdrawn internet services in the two districts and restricted media from reporting from the area.

Social media reports by journalists in Balochistan claimed on Friday that the fighters had downed numerous helicopter gunships and an armoured personnel carrier.

Dawn newspaper reported that heavy explosions and firing continued in Panjgur till Thursday afternoon.

"Residents of Panjgur town said that helicopters were seen hovering over the camp. Sources claimed that armed insurgents had taken women and children hostage after entering the camp and used them as human shields. However, security forces were able to free the hostages, sources said", reported Dawn.

India Narrative spoke with Mark Kinra, geopolitical analyst and Pakistan watcher to understand the developing situation in Balochistan.

Kinra said that the twin attacks on FC forces are undoubtedly the biggest attacks on Pakistani troops by the Baloch nationalists. "High intensity co-ordinated attacks by BLA’s Majeed Brigade in Panjgur and Nushki FC Camps are turning out to be the ‘Pathankot moment’ for Pakistan as even after 34 hours, Majeed Brigade continues to hold the Panjgur FC camp. Initially, Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated only one personnel was killed and the situation was controlled but the death toll since then has officially increased to 12", says Kinra.
Pakistan has blamed India and Afghanistan for orchestrating the attack.

Kinra adds that Pakistan has the habit of blaming others for self-created problems. "For the 25-26 January Kech attack that killed at least 10 Pakistan soldiers, Pakistani media had put the blame on Iran for supporting Baloch nationalists. This time, the ISPR has stated that the handlers of the current attackers are in India and Afghanistan—ironically the same Afghanistan that has the Pakistan-backed Taliban".

Kinra says that the Baloch nationalists had earlier also used Afghanistan as a 'safe haven’ and the regime in Pakistan assumed that with the Taliban coming to power, it would run the show in the region.

For Pakistan the situation in Balochistan has suddenly turned serious after this massive attack. Also, this is the third big attack on the Pakistani forces in the last ten days.

"However, nothing seems to deter Baloch nationalists in their mission towards independence. The Noshki and Panjgur attacks assume significance as these are happening exactly at the same time as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visits China. This sends out a signal to China that if Pakistan’s FC camps are not safe from Baloch attacks, how will China safeguard its interests in Balochistan and Pakistan".

The BLA also released a transcript of one of its fighters holed up in the Panjgur camp, who gave a detailed assessment of the fight. The fighter reportedly told his Baloch commander that the fighting was so intense and troops casualties so high that Pakistani forces could not even evacuate their dead and injured.

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