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Balochistan Liberation Army

The Balochistan Liberation Army (Balochi: بلۏچستان آجوییء لشکر

The Balochistan Liberation Army (Balochi: بلۏچستان آجوییء لشکر; abbreviated BLA, also known as the Baloch Liberation Army), is a Baloch ethnonationalist militant organization based in Afghanistan.[21][19][18][17] BLA’s first recorded activity was during the summer of 2000, after it claimed credit for a series of bombing attacks on Pakistani authorities.[17][22] BLA is listed as a terrorist organization by Pakistan,[23] the United Kingdom,[24] and the United States.[25][26]

BLA operates mainly in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, where it carries out attacks against the Pakistan Armed Forces, civilians and foreign nationals.[27][28]

History

BLA was founded in 2000, although some media and analysts speculate that the group is a resurgence of prior Baloch insurgencies, specifically the Independent Balochistan Movement of 1973 to 1977.[29] According to some sources, two former KGB agents code-named ‘Misha’ and ‘Sasha’ were among the BLA architects. According to them, BLA was built around the Baloch Student Organization (BSO). BLA disappeared following the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan as the USSR withdrew funding.[30][31][32]

On 10 February 1973, Pakistani police and paramilitary raided the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad without Iraqi government permission. During the raid, they found a large cache of small arms, ammunition, grenades, and other supplies in crates marked ‘Foreign Ministry, Baghdad’; they believed these were meant for Baloch rebels. Pakistan responded by expelling and declaring persona non grata the Iraqi Ambassador, Hikmat Sulaiman, and other consular staff. In a letter to President Nixon on February 14, Bhutto blamed India and Afghanistan, besides Iraq and the Soviet Union, for involvement in a “conspiracy […] [with] subversive and irredentist elements which seek to disrupt Pakistan’s integrity”.[33][34]

In 2004, BLA began a violent struggle against Pakistan for self-determination for the Baloch people and the separation of Balochistan from Pakistan, conducting terror attacks against non-Baloch minorities in Balochistan.[35][36][17]

Pakistan designated the Balochistan Liberation Army as a terrorist organization on 7 April 2006 after the group repeatedly attacked security personnel.[37] On 17 July 2006, the British government followed suit, listing BLA as a “proscribed group” based on the Terrorism Act 2000.[38] However, the U.K. harbored Hyrbyair Marri, suspected BLA leader, as a refugee, despite Pakistan’s protest.[39] The group’s actions were described as terrorism by the United States Department of State.[40]

On 15 April 2009, Baloch activist Brahamdagh Khan Bugti (accused by the Pakistani government as a BLA leader), called for Balochis to kill non-Balochis residing in Balochistan, including civilians. Targeted attacks against Punjabi residents began soon after, causing about 500 deaths. BLA leaders later claimed responsibility for inciting the attacks.[17] BLA targeted people from various ethnic backgrounds, including Pashtuns, Sindhis, and Punjabis, whom BLA consider outsiders.[41][42][43][44][45]

In 2010, BLA attacked schools, teachers, and students in the province.[46]

The United States designated the group as a global terrorist organization on 2 July 2019 and froze BLA assets.[25][26][21][47][48] The European Union designated BLA as a terrorist organization.[49][50]

Funding

David Wright-Neville wrote that besides Pakistan, some Western observers claimed that India funds BLA.[51] However, in August 2013, US Special Representative James Dobbins said, “The dominant infiltration of militants is from Pakistan into Afghanistan, but we recognize that there is some infiltration of hostile militants from the other direction. So Pakistan’s concerns aren’t groundless. They are simply, in our judgment, somewhat exaggerated.”[52]

Yunas reported that Hyrbyair Marri[53] has been the group’s leader since 2007. However, in an interview in 2015, he denied having any contact with the group.[54] Hyrbyair’s brother, Balach, led the group from 2000 until he was killed in 2007.[55]

Foreign involvement

India

The Hindu reported that BLA commanders had sought medical treatment in India’s hospitals using disguises and fake identities.[56] One militant commander in charge of Khuzdar lived in Delhi for at least six months in 2017 while he underwent treatment for kidney ailments.[56] Another commander, Aslam Baloch, allegedly visited India after the Express Tribune reported his treatment at a New Delhi hospital.[56][57]

Pakistan has often accused BLA of acting as an Indian proxy, alleging that Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad, Afghanistan, provided arms, training, and financial aid.[58] Baloch separatist Hyrbyair Marri denied the group had links with India. He also claimed that he is not a BLA member.[54] India has also denied helping BLA.[59]

Afghanistan

Afghanistan acknowledged its covert support for BLA. After the death of Aslam Baloch, also known as Achu, in Kandahar, Afghan officials stated that Afghan police chief Abdul Raziq Achakzai had housed Aslam Baloch and other separatists in Kandahar for years.[10] Tolonews reported that Aslam Baloch had resided in Afghanistan since 2005.[60]

BLA leader Balach Marri was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.[61][62]

China
After BLA attacks on Chinese citizens, Chinese officials called on the Pakistani government to carry out additional strikes against the group.[63][64]

Attacks

2000–2010
On 14 December, BLA militants launched six rockets at a paramilitary camp in Balochistan’s Kohlu District that then-President Pervez Musharraf was visiting. Though Musharraf’s life was not endangered, the Pakistani government labeled the attack an attempt on his life and initiated a sweeping army operation.[65]

On 14 June 2009, masked gunmen shot dead Anwar Baig, a school teacher in Kalat. Baig had opposed recitation of the Baloch anthem in schools. The killing was part of a larger campaign against educators who were seen to be sympathetic to the Pakistani state.[66] On 30 July, BLA militants kidnapped 19 Pakistani police in Sui, killed one and injured 16. Over the course of 3 weeks all but one of the kidnapped officers were killed by their captors.[67]

In 2010, Nazima Talib, a female assistant professor at the University of Balochistan in Quetta was murdered. BLA claimed responsibility.[68] On 14 August, BLA militants killed 6 laborers and wounded 3 others on their way home from work in the Khilji area of Quetta .[69]

2011–2020
On 21 November, BLA terrorists attacked government security personnel who were guarding a mine in the northern Musakhel district, killing 14 and wounding 10. BLA claimed to have killed 40.[70] On 31 December, BLA claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb targeting a Baloch politician, Naseer Mengal, at his home in Quetta. The suicide attack killed 13 people and injured 30.[15][71]

On 26 May 2012, BLA took responsibility for the assassination of Muzafar Hussain Jamali, principal of a private school in Kharan.[72] Jamali was travelling with his family when they were attacked. Jamali and his eight year old nephew died immediately, while his two daughters were injured.[73] On 12 July, BLA took responsibility for abducting and killing 7 miners and 1 doctor. The miners were abducted in Soorang area on 7 July. The miners were later killed and their bullet ridden bodies were found.[74][75] The victims were Pashtuns. Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and miner labour union staged protest outside Balochistan High Court (BHC).[76]

On 6 August 2013, BLA took responsibility for abducting and killing 11 passengers from a bus near Machh Town. The militants were disguised as security personnel.[77] On 16 August, BLA claimed responsibility for attacking Jaffar Express near Machh. The attack claimed lives of two people and wounded ten.[77] The Quaid-e-Azam Residency, a historical residence in Balochistan where Muhammad Ali Jinnah spent the last days of his life, was attacked by rockets on 15 June. The building was nearly demolished. BLA militants claimed responsibility. The militants removed the flag of Pakistan from the monument site, replacing it with a BLA flag.[78] Reconstruction work was completed and the rehabilitated Ziarat Residency opened on 14 August 2014.[79]

On 3 November 2014, BLA attacked United Baloch Army (UBA). Commander Ali Sher of UBA was killed in the attack. Four other UBA members were captured by BLA.[80]

On 30 June 2015, BLA clashed with UBA in Dera Bugti. The attack resulted in death of 20 militants on both sides.[81]

On 7 October 2016, BLA claimed responsibility for two blasts targeting Jaffar Express. The attack claimed lives of six people and wounded eighteen.[82][83]

In 2017 ten Sindhi laborers were killed by two gunmen on motorbikes. BLA claimed the attack as a response to the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.[84] Victims were native of Sindh province.[43] On 14 August, BLA claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb blast that killed 8 FC troops in Harnai.[85]

On 23 November 2018, BLA claimed responsibility for killing four at the Chinese Consulate in Karachi.[86][87] The attackers were killed by police during the attack.[88] Later on, the mastermind of the attack, Aslam Baloch Achu, was killed along with five other commanders in Kandahar, Afghanistan.[2]

On 11 May 2019, BLA claimed responsibility for an attack on the Zaver Pearl-Continental Hotel in the port city of Gwadar.[89]

On 29 June 2020, 4 BLA militants attempted to attack and hold the Pakistan Stock Exchange attack in Karachi as hostage but were killed by security forces.[90] On 15 October, at least 14 security personnel were killed after a convoy of state-run Oil & Gas Development Company (OGDCL) was attacked.[91][92] On 27 December, seven soldiers were killed in an attack on a Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan post in Harnai district of Balochistan.[93]

2021–
See also: 2022 University of Karachi bombing

On 7 March, two Navy Personnel were killed in an attack, while en route to Ganz from Jiwani, Balochistan.[94] On 24 March, a bomb blast left at least 3 dead and another 13 injured.[95][96] On 28 May BLA accepted the responsibility of targeting a water supply vehicle of the Pakistan Army near a post at Nisau Dao Shah area of Kohlu with a landmine attack, which destroyed the vehicle and 4 personnel . On 31 May 10 Frontier Corps soldiers were killed and 12 injured in two attacks, an IED attack in Turbat and an attack on a checkpoint near Quetta. The attack was claimed by BLA.[97][98] On 9 June , BLA accepted responsibility for an attack on the Pakistani army camp in the Karakdan area of Bolan Pass, in which two were killed and two others were critically wounded.[99] On 14 June, 4 Pakistani soldiers were killed in an IED attack at Marget Mines.[100] On 17 June, a Pakistan Army soldier was killed near Turbat airport, according to a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).[101] On 25 June, five soldiers from Frontier Corps, Balochistan, were killed after terrorists targeted a patrolling party in Sibi district’s Sangan area.[102] On 1 July, an explosion took place near a moving Frontier Corps (FC) vehicle, At least six people were injured.[103] On 15 July, two soldiers were killed in an IED blast during an operation in Pasni.[104][105] On 20 August, two children were killed and three wounded in an attack targeting Chinese nationals in Gwadar, Pakistan.[106] On 26 September a statue of Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah was destroyed by Baloch militants in the coastal city of Gwadar. On 11 October, Shahid Zehri, a 35-year-old Pakistani journalist was killed in an attack claimed by BLA.[107]

On 25–26 January 2022, an attack on a security checkpoint in Kech Province led to the death of 10 Pakistani soldiers.[108] On 2 February, 9 militants and 12 soldiers were killed at Panjgur and Nushki districts. BLA claimed to have killed more than 100 soldiers at two military camps, claims rejected by Pakistan government.[109][110] On 2 March, three people including a senior police officer in Quetta were killed by a roadside bomb. BLA claimed responsibility.[111] On 26 April, BLA claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb in which four people, including three of Chinese origin at Karachi University, were killed. It further said that this was the first such bombing by a female member of the group.[112]

On 13 August 2023, two BLA militants attacked a convoy of Chinese engineers in Gwadar. A spokesman for the BLA claimed 4 Chinese nationals and 9 Pakistani soldiers were killed with numerous others injured in the attack while the two BLA militants committed suicide. However, these claims are unconfirmed and Pakistani and Chinese sources and officials claimed that no Pakistani or Chinese casualties were reported but that the BLA ambush was repulsed with two militants killed. After the attack, security restrictions were placed in Gwadar by Pakistani security forces. [113][114] [115]

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      Baloch rights group highlights enforced disappearances in Balochistan through posters during UNHRC session Read more At: https://www.aninews.in/news/world/europe/baloch-rights-group-highlights-enforced-disappearances-in-balochistan-through-posters-during-unhrc

      The Treaty of 1876: A Case Study of British Occupation of Balochistan

      It's possible the Pakistani Army abdugted the footballers to bring more security forces in the area.

      Football players kidnapped in Balochistan, rescue mission underway