Balochistan Liberation Army

Indian Mujahideen
June 23, 2019
Saraya al-Mukhtar
June 23, 2019

The Balochistan Liberation Army (بلوچستان لبریشن آرمی‎; abbreviated BLA), also known as the Baloch Liberation Army is a Baloch militant organization based in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The BLA is listed as a terrorist organization by Pakistan and United Kingdom. Since 2004 the BLA has waged an armed struggle against the state of Pakistan for what it claims as equal rights and self-determination for the Baloch people in Pakistan, who it claims have been subjected to repression for decades. The BLA is operating mainly in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan where it carries out attacks against the Pakistan Armed Forces. The Baloch Liberation Army became publicly known during the summer of 2000, after it claimed credit for a series of bombing attacks on Pakistani authorities.

History

According to some sources, ‘Misha’ and ‘Sasha’ (two former KGB agents) were among the architects of the original BLA.

On 10 February 1973, Pakistani police and paramilitary raided the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad without prior permission of the Iraqi government, during which a large cache of small arms, ammunition, grenades and other supplies were found in crates marked ‘Foreign Ministry, Baghdad’. The ammunition and weaponry were believed to be destined 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”

Wright-Neville wrote that besides Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). However, in August 2013 US Special Representative James Dobbins said “The dominant infiltration of militants is from Pakistan into Afghanistan, but we recognise that there is some infiltration of hostile militants from the other direction as well.”So Pakistan’s concerns aren’t groundless. They are simply, in our judgement, somewhat exaggerated.”

Some have claimed that Hyrbyair Marri has been the group’s leader since 2007, but in an interview in 2015 he denied having any contact with the group. Hyrbyair’s brother Balach had led the group from 2000 until he was assassinated in 2007.

Foreign involvement

It has been claimed that Brahumdagh Bugti is one of the founders of the BLA. Pakistan has accused the BLA of being an Indian proxy, and Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for providing arms, training and financial aid to the BLA in an attempt to destabilize Pakistan However Hyrbyair Marri has denied the group has any links with India.

Afghanistan has acknowledged that they have been providing covert support to Baloch liberation army (BLA). After the death of Aslam Baloch alias Achu in Kandahar, Afghan officials claimed that the Afghan police chief Abdul Raziq Achakzai has housed Aslam Baloch and other separatist in Kandahar for years. Similarly, Afghan media outlet, Tolo News also claimed that Aslam Baloch has been residing in Afghanistan since 2005.

Previously Baloch liberation army leader, Balach Marri, was also killed in Afghanistan.

Terrorist designation

Pakistan designated the Balochistan Liberation Army as a terrorist organisation on 7 April 2006 after the group conducted a series of attacks targeting security personnel. On 17 July 2006, the British government followed suit, listing the BLA as a “proscribed group” based on the Terrorism Act 2000, although the U.K. has harboured Hyrbyair Marri, leader of the BLA, as a refugee, something Pakistani leader Raheel Sharif has protested against. The group’s actions have been described as terrorism by the United States Department of State.

United States and European Union have also designated Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) as a terrorist organisation.

War Crimes

Brahamdagh Khan Bugti, alleged leader of Baloch liberation army (BLA), asked native Balochs to conduct ethnic cleansing of Non-Baloch citizens from the province. As a result, Baloch liberation army (BLA) started attacking non-Baloch citizens of the province. BLA started targeting people from various ethnic backgrounds like Pashtuns, Sindhis and Punjabis whom the BLA considered to be outsider in the province.

Human right groups have accused Baloch insurgent groups of being involved in grave human right violations. Insurgent groups such as Baloch liberation army (BLA) have been involved in attack on schools, teachers and students in the province.

Attacks

  • On 14 December 2005, 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 never in any real danger, the Pakistani government labeled the attack an attempt on his life and initiated a sweeping army operation in Kohlu.
  • 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.
  • On 30 July 2009, 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 police were killed by their captors.
  • On 14 August 2010, BLA militants killed 6 laborers and wounded 3 others while they were on their way home from work.
  • On 21 November 2011, BLA insurgents attacked government security personnel who were guarding a private coal mine in the northern Musakhel district, killing 14 and wounding 10 more. The BLA claimed to have killed 40.
  • On 31 December 31 2011, BLA militants placed a car bomb outside the house of Mir Naseer Mengal, a former minister of state, killing 13 and wounding 30 more.
  • On 12 July 2012, Baloch liberation army took responsibility for abducting and killing 7 coal miners and 1 doctor. The miners were abducted in Soorang area on 7 July 2012. The miners were later killed and their bullet ridden bodies were found. All of the victims were Pashtuns. Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and coal miner labour union staged protest outside Balochistan High Court (BHC).
  • On 6 August 2013, Baloch liberation army (BLA) took responsibility for abducting and killing 11 passengers from a bus near Machh Town. The militants were disguised as security personnel.
  • On 16 August 2013, Baloch liberation army claimed responsibility for conducting a attack on Jaffar Express near Machh. The attack claimed lives of two people and wounded ten others.
  • On 3 November 2014, Baloch liberation army (BLA) attacked United Baloch army (UBA). Commander Ali Sher of UBA was killed in the attack. Four other members of the UBA were also captured by BLA.
  • On 30 June 2015, Baloch liberation army (BLA) clashed with United Baloch Army (UBA) in Dera Bugti. The attack resulted in death of 20 militants on both sides.
  • On 7 October 2016, Baloch liberation army claimed responsibility for twin blast targeting Jaffar Express. The attack claimed lives of six people and wounded eighteen others.
  • 10 laborers are killed by two gunmen on motorbikes in Gwadar, Pakistani officials stated on 13 May 2017. BLA claimed the attack as a response to the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor. Victims of the attack were native of Sindh province.
  • On 14 August 2017, BLA claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb blast that killed 8 FC troops in Harnai.
  • On 23 November 2018, BLA claimed responsibility for an attack, killing four, on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi in a tweet that included a photo of three men identified as Azal Khan Baloch, Razik Baloch and Rais Baloch. All of them were killed by police during the attack. Later on, the mastermind of the attack, Aslam Baloch Achu, was also killed along with five other commanders in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
  • On 11 May 2019, the BLA claimed responsibility for an attack on the Zaver Pearl-Continental Hotel in the port city of Gwadar.

BLA are comprised of tribal groups based in the Baluchistan area of Eastern Pakistan, which aims to establish an independent nation encompassing the Baluch dominated areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

 

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