Daring Balochistan separatists have claimed that they have fired several rockets on the Pakistan Navy base at Turbat in the restive Ketch district of Balochistan province on Friday. Turbat is an important Pakistani naval base, as well as air supply hub serving projects under the controversial China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Baloch militants have also claimed that their fighters are still holding the Pangjur camp of the Pakistani security forces.
“BLA Majeed Brigade’s control over FC camp in Panjgur has completed 60 hours now.
5 hours ago, a large number of Pakistan military’s SSG attempted to enter the camp, however, fidayeens of Majeed Brigade valiantly fought and repulsed their attack,” said the Baloch Liberation Army in a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday.
Earlier, in a separate statement, the Balochistan militant organisation had claimed on Friday that it had shot down a Pakistani military drone over Pangjur camp which is still under their control.
Information on the situation remained scarce as a curfew had been imposed on Panjgur since Thursday, and mobile phone and internet services have been suspended by the Pakistani forces. Even Pakistani media has been instructed to “ignore” the news and publish only the statements issued by the Pakistani sources.
The attacks pose an unprecedented challenge to state forces in restive Balochistan – the most militarised zone of Pakistan. Pakistani experts described the assaults as an “unacceptable breach of security”.
On the late evening of Wednesday, BLA militants launched a well -coordinated twin attack on the camps of the Pakistani Frontier Corps at Panjgur and Noshki. Baloch sources claim that more than 100 Pakistani security personnel were killed in the bold strike. In a counter attack, the Pakistani forces managed to recapture Noshki but they are apparently still fighting to regain control of Panjgur camp.
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The two attacks started hours before the Pakistani Minister Imran Khan arrived in China. According to the Pakistani security officials, these attacks were designed to send a message to China and derail Khan’s talks with the Chinese for more funds for the CPEC projects.
“The attacks were very well coordinated and they are linked with Chinese interests in Pakistan. Khan and Chinese President Xi Jinping are to discuss CPEC and it was to show Pakistan is not a safe country,” one Pakistani official told AFP.
China has invested billions of dollars through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in recent years in infrastructure and energy projects linking China’s far-western Xinjiang region with the strategic port of Gwadar in Balochistan.
But it offers the people of Balochistan virtually nothing. This has added to the fury of Balochs who have been protesting against the Pakistan government’s exploitation of the province. Lack of inclusive developments in Balochistan is one of the major factors behind the unrest. Continued disregard for the Baloch and their demands is likely to remain the prime reason for the region will remain restive, leading to increased threats to Chinese investments.
The Baloch pro -independence militant groups have waged an insurgency in the vast southwestern province for years, fuelled by anger that its abundant reserves of natural resources are not relieving citizens from crushing poverty.
The series of attacks against Chinese workers and installations in Balochistan including the Chinese consulate in Karachi and elsewhere in the country have forced Chinese authorities into a state of high alert. It has compounded their anxieties about the sad state of affairs in Balochistan province, where it wants to continue working on CPEC—the flagship of China’s ultra-ambitious, connectivity-centred Belt and Road Initiative.