Quetta: Separatist insurgents in the Pakistani province of Balochistan have attacked two military bases, killing one soldier while losing four of their own men, the army said, in the latest violence in the resource-rich province where China is investing.
The overnight attacks came hours before Prime Minister Imran Khan set off for Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games.
“We salute our brave security forces who repulsed terrorist attacks,” Khan said in a statement on Thursday.
The Baloch Liberation Army (BLF) insurgent group claimed responsibility in a statement sent to a Reuters reporter, saying its suicide bombers had detonated explosive-laden vehicles at the entrance of the bases killing more than 50 soldiers.
Last week, the insurgents killed 10 soldiers in an attack on a post near the port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, the heaviest casualty for the army in the Balochistan insurgency in years.
The army said both of the Wednesday night attacks – one in Panjgur district and the other in Naushki district – had been repulsed.
Ethnic Baloch guerrillas have been fighting the government for decades for a separate state, saying the central government unfairly exploits Balochistan’s rich gas and mineral resources.
They usually attack gas projects, infrastructure and the security forces. They also attack Chinese projects, and occasionally kill Chinese workers despite Pakistani assurances that it is doing everything it can to protect the projects.
China is involved in the development of the Gwadar port and other projects in the province as part of a $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative.
Pakistan has accused India of covertly supporting the Balochistan insurgents. India denies that.