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Pak thwarts attack on CPEC’s Gwadar port, 7 militants killed

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ISLAMABAD: Baloch separatists armed with guns and bombs attacked Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar Port Authority Complex, a key to the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, on Wednesday, with seven assailants being shot dead by security forces, government officials said.
The militants stormed the complex in southwestern Baluchistan province which houses offices of different government departments, intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces, said Saeed Ahmed Umrani, the region’s commissioner.
“Attackers carried out many blasts,” he told media, adding that it was followed by an attack with guns. He said the army and police were responding to the attackers. “I have received reports that seven attackers have been killed,” Umrani added.

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A statement from the United Nations Department for Safety and Security said “several explosions followed by continuous firing” were reported during the attack on the complex. The statement added there were no immediate reports of casualties, elaborating that seven personnel from three UN agencies based in Gwadar and two UN agencies on missions were “safe and accounted for”.

The Majeed Brigade, a suicide squad of the proscribed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying it targeted offices of military intelligence located in the complex. The group mostly targets security forces and Chinese interests in Pakistan. Intelligence reports suggest it maintains sanctuaries in areas along the Pakistan-Iran border.

Gwadar, a seaport town on Pakistan’s southwestern coast, is part of China’s multi-billion-dollar CPEC, the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. Much of the violence is seen as a reaction by Baloch separatist groups to China’s investment plans in the region to link its Xinjiang province with the Arabian Sea in Balochistan through a network of roads and rail. Baloch nationalists initially wanted a share of provincial resources, but later initiated a movement for separation from Pakistan.

The attack on the Gwadar complex follows a fierce terrorist attack on a security check post in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, last week, as the country witnesses a spike in such attacks, resulting in the deaths of several civilians and law enforcement officials.

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