An overnight gun battle in Pakistan’s Balochistan province resulted in the deaths of six members of a rebel armed group and four security officers. The attack, carried out by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), targeted military and security installations in the city of Mach, south of the provincial capital, Quetta. Despite difficult terrain, a clearing operation is underway to address the aftermath of the attack.
The decades-old rebel movement in Balochistan is rooted in grievances over neglect and unfair resource distribution by the Pakistani government. The province, rich in natural resources, remains the country’s poorest. The conflict has escalated with attacks on security forces and Chinese citizens working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), prompting a forceful response from the Pakistani state.
The recent attack comes in the wake of heightened global attention on Balochistan following cross-border strikes between Iranian and Pakistani forces. Allegations of human rights abuses by security forces, including extrajudicial killings and disappearances, have also brought attention to the region.
As Pakistan approaches its general election, security analysts warn that Baloch separatists have rejected the upcoming polls. The timing of the recent attack suggests that the actions at the borders will shape the future course of the conflict.