Baloch militants kill 5 Pakistani soldiers in attack 'co-ordinated from Iran'

By Abdul Ghani Kakar


Baloch militants can be seen in this photo released by BRAS February 19 as part of a claim of responsibility for a cross-border attack that killed five Pakistani soldiers. [Courtesy of Abdul Ghani Kakar]

QUETTA -- Baloch militants attacked a paramilitary camp in Turbat District of Balochistan late Tuesday (February 18), killing at least five security personnel and wounding three others.

Baloch Raji Aajoi Saangar (BRAS), an umbrella group of militants, claimed responsibility.

"More than 10 assailants targeted the camp from two different directions with sophisticated weapons," said Sohail Anjum, a senior security official based in Turbat.

Afterward, the militants "fled from the scene to the bordering area of Iran", he said, adding that security forces have launched a search operation.

"Turbat is a very restive area in Balochistan, and we have reports that this attack was co-ordinated from Iran and that the attackers were seen by locals in the area bordering Iran," said Anjum.

Authorities have tightened security arrangements in Turbat and have deployed additional troops on all internal and external routes in Makran Division, according to Anjum.

"The militant group BRAS wants to sabotage development and foreign investment in Balochistan," he added.

BRAS consists of four outlawed groups -- the Balochistan Liberation Army, the Baloch Liberation Front, the Baloch Republican Army and the Baloch Republican Guards.

This group was responsible for an attack on a bus last April in the Ormara area of Gwadar District that left 14 Pakistani Navy and Coast Guard personnel dead.

Iranian support

The Iranian regime actively attempts to portray itself as an ally to Pakistan but continues to undermine the country's security by backing militant groups, Pakistani defence and intelligence officials say.

The Iranian regime is fueling militancy in Balochistan for its strategic interests, said Abdul Qayyum Wakil, a senior political affairs analyst based in Quetta.

"Iran is openly violating the terms of bilateral engagement, and such cross-border attacks further expose Iranian designs against our national security," he said.

Militants linked to the Iranian and other hostile regimes are behind the attacks on foreign investment in Balochistan, he said.

"Without local support, militants could not carry out any such attack in restive parts of our bordering areas... it is the need of the hour for the establishment to address the reservations of nationalist parties in Balochistan over foreign investment," he added.

The situation in Balochistan is getting worse day by day, he said.

"Most important, peace cannot be ensured unless the government takes effective steps based on on-the-ground realities in the province," he added.

"The recent attacks in Balochistan are part of a new wave of terrorism in the province... the anti-peace elements have changed their plan of action," said Zahoor Abid, a Quetta-based senior Home Ministry official.

He blamed the Iranian regime for not taking steps as concrete as Pakistan's to secure the border and for allowing cross-border terrorist acts to occur in Balochistan.

"The provincial government is revisiting the security mechanism in the province and the Safe City projects in sensitive areas are also in the final stage," he said. "We are very sure that the completion of Safe City projects will largely benefit our comprehensive security plan."

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