A suicide bombing in Kandahar, Afghanistan, has killed a separatist commander who was wanted for organising a suicide bombing attack against the Chinese Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing that took his life.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack on the Chinese Consulate last month asserting that Beijing is an “oppressor” and that would not tolerate “China's military expansionism on Baloch soil”. Four people were killed in that attack.
Aslam Baloch was the commander killed in this current attack alongside another member of the BLA and two civilians.
Balochistan is riddled with widespread poverty as well as sectarian and separatist violence. The BLA is just one of the militant groups operating in Balochistan. Residents complain that whilst the area has great resources and mineral wealth, they have not been able to access the profits made of their land.
China is interested in expanding an infrastructure project into the region which will connect the western province of Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan. It has paid billions into Pakistan as part of its planned China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Whilst Pakistan is receptive to the project, it is troubled by weak institutions, corruption and separatists within the region.
Since the beginning of the project militants have repeatedly attacked construction sites, gas pipelines, trains and even Chinese workers. Pakistan has responded to the insurgents, by employing brute force since 2004 and has been accused by international rights groups of repeated violations of human rights.
Major General Tadin Khan, the police chief of Kandahar, accused the Pakistan intelligence agency of supporting the attack in Kandahar stating, “The bomber was sent and guided by the ISI”. Pakistan in turn has accused General Khan of aiding the BLA separatists stating he has a vast network of informants in the region. Khan is a staunch critic of Pakistan and has been openly critical of Pakistan harbouring Taliban leaders.
Responding to the attack the BLA vowed they would continue to fight for Baloch independence.