Gunmen attacked a Pakistan Coast Guards check post in Gwadar district Saturday morning, killing seven officials and wounding as many others. Two of the wounded officials are said to be missing after the assault.
Balochistan has increasingly become a flashpoint for both sectarian violence and Baloch insurgency which has steadily become deadlier since the 2006 killing of Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation in Kohlu district.
Saturday’s incident happened in the Sund Sar area, some 125 kilometres from Quetta city and close to the Pakistan-Iran border, according to Balochistan Levies sources and local administration officials.
“Around 24 gunmen, armed with rocket launchers and heavy weapons, attacked the Kalki check post and killed seven Coast Guards officials,” Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told reporters. At least seven officials were also injured in the early morning attack, he added.
A local tribal police official Muhammad Ali also confirmed the attack and casualties and said the identity of the attackers was not immediately known. According to sources, two of the injured officials went missing following the attack.
The officials manning the check post returned the fire and inflicted heavy casualties forcing them to retreat, Pakistan Coast Guards said in a press release. The terrorists also took away the bodies of their wounded fighters.
Gwadar tehsildar Akbar Baloch told The Express Tribune that the attackers, armed with sophisticated weapons, approached the check post in two vehicles around 6am.
Soon after the attack, the Coast Guards, Frontier Corps and Balochistan Levies mounted a manhunt for the attacker, Home Secretary Durrani said.
The casualties were shifted to the Pakistan Navy Hospital in Ormara. The dead Coast Guards officials – identified as Lance Naik Kamran Aslam and constables Ali Nawaz, Saifur Rehman, Amir Abbas, Rustam Bilal, Shabbir Israr and Abdul Qayyum – were flown to Karachi.
The injured officials were identified as Subedar Athar Khan, Lance Naik Jalil and constables Aftab, Lal Mohammad and Ali Raza. Naik Shafiur Rehman and Constable Jhango Khan were said to be missing following the attack.
A medley of Baloch separatist groups – including Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) – have been fighting a deadly insurgency in Balochistan since 2004.
Speaking to Quetta-based journalists from an undisclosed location, Gohram Baloch, a purported spokesperson for BLF, claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack.
Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch condemned the attack and ordered the security forces to take immediate steps to improve law and order.
Gwadar is home to a newly built strategic warm-water, deep-sea port, which was jointly developed by Pakistan and China and inaugurated March 20, 2007. The port operations were officially handed over to China in 2013. And the new Pakistani government has chalked out elaborate plans for the development of the district.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2013.