Just one day before Pakistan celebrates its Independence Day on August 14, Baloch nationalists carried out a big attack on a convoy carrying 23 Chinese nationals at Gwadar port city on Sunday morning. The encounter lasted many hours.
Chinese State-affiliated newspaper Global Times tweeted: “A Chinese convoy of engineers was attacked near the Gwadar police station in Pakistan, the Global Times has learned. The convoy of three SUVs and a van, all bulletproof, carried 23 Chinese personnel. An IED exploded during the attack and the van was shot at, creating cracks in the glass”.
A Chinese convoy of engineers was attacked near the Gwadar police station in Pakistan, the Global Times has learned. The convoy of three SUVs and a van, all bulletproof, carried 23 Chinese personnel. An IED exploded during the attack and the van was shot at, creating cracks in… pic.twitter.com/LQ4zhuOGnh
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 13, 2023
The attack has been claimed by Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) which is fighting for independence from Pakistan.
In a flurry of press statements on Sunday, BLA said: “In a self-sacrificing operation today in Gwadar, two Fidayeen of BLA Majeed Brigade, Naveed Baloch alias Aslam Baloch of Dasht Nigor and Maqbool Baloch alias Qayim Baloch of Geshkor Awaran, targeted a convoy of Chinese engineers. This operation ZirPahazag continued for more than two hours. According to the information received so far, at least four Chinese nationals and nine personnel of Pakistani military, were killed and several were injured. This is preliminary information and the number of enemy losses could rise”.
#BLA released the images of the attackers of #Chinese convoy in Gwadar. BLA also claimed it killed 13, including 4 Chinese nationals and 9 personnel of Pakistani military, in today’s attack in #Gwadar. pic.twitter.com/tXK678Fn7b
— Koustuv 🇮🇳 🧭 (@srdmk01) August 13, 2023
However, the number of casualties has not been confirmed as yet. Spokesperson for the BLA, Jeeyand Baloch said in the press statement that the BLA fighters shot themselves.
🔴Chinese 🇨🇳Under attack in #Balochistan
👉Explosions and gunfire at port city of Gwadar, all roads remain closed for traffic.
👉 attack on a convoy of Chinese engineers that has continued for nearly 2 hours now.
Vid: TBPE pic.twitter.com/2CzT5yBAso
— Levina🇮🇳 (@LevinaNeythiri) August 13, 2023
The daring attack took place near Faqeer Colony in Gwadar on a road that leads to the hammer-head port being built by China under its global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Beijing has pumped in nearly $62 billion connecting its south-western Xinjiang province to Gwadar on the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The aim is to bypass the vulnerable Malacca Strait sea route that passes through South-East Asian nations and the Andaman Sea in a bid to secure its vast energy supplies and trade.
China has been building ports around the world. Its port-building spree, which has always been controversial for multiple factors, was in the news recently as defence experts believe many of the commercial ports may be converted into military ports.
The ISPR, Pakistan’s public relations agency for its military said that one terrorist was killed and three others injured on Sunday in an exchange of fire with security forces. The agency tried to pass off the incident as an offensive by Pakistani security forces, instead of an attack by Baloch fighters on Chinese nationals.
The ISPR statement said: “The security forces have cordoned off the entire area [and] launched [a] search operation”.
The Pakistani forces have come under severe attacks in Balochistan and also Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – both of which share a border with Afghanistan.
Nearly a month back 12 Pakistani soldiers were killed when fighters stormed an army camp in Zhob in Balochistan. Pakistani forces are now battling not just the Baloch armed organisations but also Tehreek-E-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants based in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan has alleged that the attackers were Afghan nationals.
The Baloch armed organisations have vowed to oppose any foreign investment in Balochistan and hold China responsible for the economic exploitation of the Baloch community.