Karachi blast: Why is the Baloch Liberation Army targeting Chinese nationals?
The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), one of the most prominent militant groups operating against Pakistani, has claimed a deadly attack on Chinese citizens in Karachi on Tuesday. The BLA, which operates mainly from Balochistan, has been battling for the liberation of the province. Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province by territory but the smallest in terms of the population given its arid mountainous terrain.
Balochistan borders Afghanistan to the north, and Iran to the west and has a long coastline on the Arabian Sea. It has Pakistan's largest natural gas field and is believed to have many more undiscovered reserves, reported news agency Reuters.
Over the years, the BLA's main focus has been Pakistani security forces, but in recent years the group has also targeted not Chinese interests, but its citizens.
CCTV footage of the attack showed a burqa-clad woman standing outside the entrance of the Confucius Institute on Tuesday. The woman detonated herself just as the van neared the institute's entrance. Three Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver died in the attack.
A spokesperson of the BLA, which is banned in Pakistan, the UK and the US, said the attack was carried out by Shari Baloch alias Bramsh - the "first female suicide bomber of the brigade". The attack marks "a new chapter in the history of Baloch resistance," he added.
Recent attacks on Chinese nationals
This is not the first time Chinese nationals have been the target of terror attacks in Karachi - Pakistan's biggest city and economic hub.
The BLA claimed attacks there on the Pakistan Stock Exchange Building in 2020 and the Chinese consulate in 2018.
In 2021, 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals, were killed in an explosion that hit a bus carrying Chinese engineers to a hydro-power plant construction site in northern Pakistan. Although, Pakistan blamed that attack on the Pakistani Taliban, operating out of Afghanistan.