Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that “terrorists” had assaulted two of its bases in southwestern Baluchistan province, killing at least one soldier and four assailants in the ensuing gun battles.
A separatist militant group, known as Baluch Liberation Army (BLA), took responsibility for staging the coordinated late-evening raids against the paramilitary forces’ camps in remote Panjgur and Nushki districts.
“Both attacks have been successfully repulsed while inflicting heavy casualties to terrorists,” the army’s media wing said, noting the shootout in Nushki injured one military officer and intermittent firing was continuing there. The army shared no further details.
The BLA claimed that its so-called suicide squad stormed the two camps and inflicted heavy casualties on Pakistani military forces. The authenticity of the militant claim could not immediately be verified from independent sources.
Wednesday’s militant attacks came a week after dozens of heavily armed separatists linked to another outlawed separatist group, known as Baluchistan Liberation Front, assaulted a military post in the province’s Kech district.
That attack killed 10 Pakistani soldiers while one attacker was killed in retaliatory fire and the rest managed to escape, according to officials. Two days after the deadly insurgent raid, a bomb attack in another district killed three paramilitary forces and wounded eight others.
Baluchistan, rich with natural gas and minerals, has for years experienced insurgent attacks, but the violence has surged dramatically in recent weeks.
Pakistani officials allege Baluch insurgents receive support and funding from rival India, charges Indian officials deny. Baluch militants are believed to have established bases in neighboring Iran for mounting attacks in Baluchistan.
China has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure projects in the province and elsewhere in Pakistan as part of Beijing’s global Belt and Road Initiative.
Officials in both countries say the uptick in militant violence is aimed at undermining the multibillion-dollar megaproject known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC, which is building roads, power projects and ports in the South Asian nation.
The corridor aims to link the Chinese-operated Pakistani deep-water Arabian Sea Gwadar port to China’s landlocked western Xinjiang border region.
The stepped-up separatist violence comes as the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, known as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, have also intensified attacks across the country, mainly targeting security forces.