WASHINGTON, DC -- The US State Department on Tuesday (July 2) designated militants fighting Pakistani rule in Balochistan as a global terrorist group.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) "is an armed separatist group that targets security forces and civilians, mainly in ethnic Baloch areas of Pakistan," the State Department said in its designation.
Pakistan has been fighting insurgents in Balochistan since 2004, with the militants recently finding a new focus in rallying against Chinese influence.
The BLA has targeted China in Pakistan multiple times, including a brazen daylight attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi that killed four people in November.
In May, five people including a soldier were killed after gunmen stormed the Pearl Continental Hotel in Gwadar, the port city that Pakistan is hoping to develop into a major commercial hub.
Claiming responsibility for the hotel attack, the BLA warned China to stop its "exploitative projects in Balochistan" and not to support the "genocide of Baloch people", threatening further attacks.
The US designation of the group comes despite vocal concerns by Washington over the Belt and Road Initiative, with Washington accusing China of imposing debt traps on developing nations.