QUETTA - At least two Pakistani coastguards were killed and three others wounded yesterday when their vehicle hit a landmine close to the Iranian border in Balochistan, officials said.
The coastguards’ vehicle hit the explosives in Koldan town near the Iranian border, some 80 kilometres from Gwadar . “The coastguards’ vehicle was part of a convoy which brings drinking water for them from Koldan town to the port of Gwadar daily,” said Muhammad Anwar, a senior administration official in the area. “Five guards were injured when their vehicle hit the landmine and two of them succumbed to their injuries later,” he said. Another government official confirmed the incident and causalities.
Gwadar port is being developed under Beijing’s ambitious $46 billion infrastructure plan, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, to link China’s western city of Kashgar to the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.
The corridor plans have strongly been criticised by New Delhi, with India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj last year calling the project unacceptable for crossing through Indian-claimed territory, Gilgit-Baltistan.
Balochistan of which Gwadar is a part is rife with separatist, Islamist extremist and sectarian violence.
The mineral-rich province has long been targeted by militants while Islamabad accuses New Delhi of fuelling unrest in the region to hamper Pakistan’s development.
A spokesman for Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) said they claimed responsibility for the blast . “We claim responsibility for this attack in Koldan. We will continue targeting Pakistani forces,” Meerak Baloch said. The blast completely destroyed the vehicle during a patrol on the outskirts of Jewani town in Balochistan. Security forces cordoned off the area and started an investigation into the attack.
Jewani is located in Gwadar district whose port is at one end of the proposed $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor stretching from the Arabian Sea to China’s Xinjiang region.
Separatist groups in Balochistan have waged violent campaigns over the past decade, saying the Pakistani state has failed to develop the impoverished region; instead, it has plundered its natural resources.
Much of the separatist violence over the past decade has targeted government personnel and security forces as well as non-Baloch ethnic groups.
Baloch activists say thousands of people have disappeared and there have been hundreds of extrajudicial killings in security forces’ crackdowns.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor offers Beijing a shorter and cheaper route for trade with Middle East and Europe and could bring investment to the region, but poor security has raised doubts about the feasibility of the plan. Last year gunmen stormed Jewani airport, killing engineers and destroying radar systems.
In a separate incident in Dera Murad Jamali, security forces claimed to have foiled a major bid of terrorism by seizing weapons and arresting a suspected militant. The security sources said one suspected militant was arrested and weapons were recovered from his possession in Dera Murad Jamali area of Naseerabad district. Meanwhile, security forces on Saturday arrested at least 25 suspects from various parts of the Balochistan metropolis in the aftermath of targeted attacks on police officials.
Security forces conducted raids on Kasi Road, Balochi Street and other areas and took the suspects in custody in connection with recent attacks on police officials.
Four policemen were killed in two separate incidents of targeted killings in Multani Mohalla and Sariab road Rreas of Quetta last week.
The Frontier Constabulary (FC) claimed to have foiled a major terror bid by defusing a bomb planted at a roadside in Turbat.A spokesman for the FC said the bomb was spotted by a passer-by, who called the paramilitary force and the police. The bomb disposal squad of the FC defused the device. According to the spokesperson, the bomb had been planted to target a patrolling team of the FC.