Insurgents Launch Deadly Attack on Pakistani City Housing China-run Port

ISLAMABAD — Authorities in Pakistan said Wednesday six people, mostly security personnel, were killed when a group of heavily armed “terrorists” stormed a government building in the southwestern city of Gwadar, home to a China-run port.

A senior security official confirmed the casualties, telling VOA that Pakistani forces “swiftly engaged” and killed “all seven assailants” in a fierce gunfight. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to interact with the media.  

The outlawed Baloch Liberation Army, or BLA, claimed responsibility for staging the afternoon assault on the Gwadar Port Authority complex, which houses civilian and security-related offices.

In a statement sent to reporters, the group, designated as a global terrorist organization by the United States, claimed that members of its so-called suicide squad, the Majeed Brigade, carried out the attack. It shared no further details.

“The attack began with a vehicle-born bomb, but thank God it could not explode,” the security official told VOA. The insurgents carrying “hand grenades, rocket launchers, and automatic assault rifles later raided the building, but they were killed in the retaliatory fire,” he said.  

Residents and witnesses reported several explosions followed by continuous firing.  

The deep-water Gwadar port in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province port is located near the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipping route in the Arabian Sea.  

China built and directly operates the port. It is central to the multibillion-dollar bilateral collaboration known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, an extension of Beijing’s global Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure project.

The bilateral undertaking has brought more than $25 billion in Chinese investment over the past decade, building road networks, power plants, and other infrastructure projects, including Gwadar.

Baluchistan has experienced a decades-long insurgency spearheaded by BLA and other outlawed groups. Insurgents also have attacked Chinese nationals working on CPEC and other projects in Pakistan, killing several of them in recent years.  

Last August, Baloch insurgents ambushed a convoy of 23 Chinese engineers in Gwadar with a roadside bomb blast before opening fire on them, but no foreigners were harmed. BLA also claimed responsibility for that attack.  

Additionally, China is building an international airport in the coastal city. Pakistani officials say it is expected to be inaugurated later this year.

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