How Baloch Separatists Are Trying to Derail China’s Investments in Pakistan

How Baloch Separatists Are Trying to Derail China’s Investments in Pakistan
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, April 28, 2019 (Pool photo by Madoka Ikegami via AP Images).

QUETTA, Pakistan—In the early hours of April 18, a group of militants in southwestern Pakistan blocked the coastal highway that connects the port of Gwadar, near the Iranian border, to Karachi farther east. The militants stopped six buses near a mountain pass and checked the identity cards of all the passengers. They singled out 14 members of Pakistan’s armed forces, and then executed them all.

People across Pakistan woke up to the disturbing news the next morning. Hours later, a coalition of three Baloch separatist groups, known as Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar, or BRAS, claimed responsibility for the attack. A coalition spokesman said that such violence would continue until China ceased all activity in southern Pakistan. The same group had previously claimed responsibility for an attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi and a bus of Chinese engineers in the town of Dalbandin, north of Gwadar.

Just last week, one of the groups in that coalition, the Baloch Liberation Army, or BLA, claimed responsibility for a deadly attack by heavily armed gunmen on a luxury hotel in Gwadar. “Our fighters have carried out this attack on Chinese and other foreign investors who were staying in [the] hotel,” the BLA’s spokesman told Al Jazeera. In another statement, the group added: “Expect more attacks China and Pakistan.”

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