Counter Terrorism Perspectives: CTP

TM: "Pakistan Confronts Resurgent Baluch Ethno-Separatist Militancy"

August 01, 2020

Pakistan has recently faced a renewed ethno-separatist militant surge targeting its financial and energy infrastructure. Four recent attacks indicate a resurgence within the multiple secessionist groups fighting for Baluchistan independence.

On June 29, the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), a banned ethno-separatist militant group, claimed a fidayeen (suicide) attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), in the port city of Karachi. Eleven people died, including four heavily armed BLA militants who attempted to storm the PSX building. Subsequently, the BLA’s suicide squad, the Majeed Brigade—named after the deceased, would-be assassin of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bhutto, Abdul Majeed Baloch—claimed responsibility for the attack through its media unit ‘Hakkal’ (Telegram, June 30; see TM, January 25, 2019). Images of slain militants and threats of future operations surfaced on social media platforms, including through Hakkal’s dedicated Telegram and Twitter handles.

A week later, on July 5, the BLA again staged multiple attacks targeting security checkpoints belonging to the Levies Force and Frontier Corps, along with a coal mine in Zard Aloo and Chappar Lat area of Hernai in the restive Baluchistan province. BLA claimed responsibility for all three attacks through its spokesman Jeeyand Baloch (Telegram, July 5). On July 14, another Baluch militant organization, the Baluchistan Liberation Front (BLF) claimed responsibility for an ambush on a military convoy in the Kahan area of Panjgur district in Baluchistan, killing three soldiers and injuring several others (Dawn, July 14). BLF spokesman Gwahram Baloch, however, exaggerated the damage, stating that more than 20 security personnel were killed in that assault in a statement later released by the group.

The U.S. Department of State designated the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, in July 2019. [1] Pakistan, which imposed a ban on the BLA in 2006, hailed the U.S. designation, as the move limits the groups’ funding lifelines.

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AUTHOR: Animesh Roul, "TM: "Pakistan Confronts Resurgent Baluch Ethno-Separatist Militancy,"
Terrorism Monitor (Jamestown Foundation), 
Volume: 18 Issue: 15, July 28, 2020

Animesh Roul is the executive director of the New Delhi based policy research group Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict. He specializes in counterterrorism, radical Islam, terror financing, and armed conflict and violence in South Asia