The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed on Tuesday that it has taken control of Mach city and its surrounding areas for the past 15 hours as part of “Operation Dara-e-Bolan.”
In a statement dated January 30, Jeeyand Baloch, a BLA spokesperson said, “Four Baloch freedom fighters of the Majeed Brigade have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
According to the statement, “the BLA’s Special Tactical Operations Squad (STOS) took control of all entry and exit routes in the area by placing explosive mines to hinder any potential enemy reinforcement.”
“The Fateh Squad has taken charge of key locations like the Police Station, Railway Station, and various areas in Mach city”, the statement added.
This comes after Balochistan’s interim Information Minister, Jan Achakzai, said on Monday that the Pakistani Army had successfully foiled three simultaneous militant attacks in the Mach area of Balochistan.
Achakzai had said that there were “reports of a few rockets fired from the hilly area in Mach, Balochistan.”
However, BLA claimed its Majeed Brigade reportedly encircled the main camp of enemy (Pakistani) forces, establishing fortified positions after infiltrating from multiple directions.
“The Fidayeen of Majeed Brigade will fight till their last bullet. So far at least 45 enemy personnel have been killed in Mach, and 10 were killed in the Peer Ghaib attack”, the statement further said.
The BLA used the statement to convey a message to the Baloch nation, saying, “The Baloch youth should join the ranks of Baloch freedom fighters so the enemy is forced to flee from Baloch motherland in months rather than in years.”
The statement outlined that the purpose of the attack was to expose the allegedly cowardly nature of the enemy forces.
The BLA, through the statement, issued a direct challenge to the Pakistani regime to fight the Balochis face-to-face. “We openly challenge Pakistani military, the killer of innocents, to come and face Baloch freedom fighters who are freely roaming the streets of Mach city in the daylight”, the statement said.
BLA threatened to attack Pakistani Security Forces
The BLA threatened to launch attacks on security forces in Balochistan and elsewhere following Pakistan’s January 18 strikes on their camps in Iran that left at least nine persons dead. The strikes were made in response to an Iranian strike in Pakistan that appeared to target a different Baloch militant group with similar separatist goals.
Pakistan’s Balochistan province, as well as Iran’s neighbouring Sistan-Baluchistan province, have faced a low-level insurgency by Baloch nationalists for more than two decades. Although the government says it has quelled the insurgency, violence in the province has persisted. Iran and Pakistan share a 900-kilometer, largely lawless, border, across which smugglers and militants freely roam.
Why BLA is attacking Pakistani Forces?
BLA is a banned armed group that is part of a broader rebellion in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and least populated province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan. The province is also the country’s poorest despite being rich in mineral resources and vast reserves of natural gas.
The decades-old rebel movement in Balochistan accuses the Pakistani government of neglecting its residents and unfair distribution of resources.
The rebellion has seen several attacks on Pakistani security forces and Chinese citizens working in the province on the $60bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), triggering a forceful response from the Pakistani state.
Allegations of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and disappearances of ethnic Baloch individuals suspected of supporting the rebellion, have been frequently made against the security forces.
The attack came amid heightened global attention on Balochistan following an Iranian air strike and a month-long sit-in held by Baloch people in the capital Islamabad.