Balochistan Liberation Army
|Balochistan Liberation Army|
|بلوچستان لبریشن آرمی
Participant in the Insurgency in Balochistan
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army
|Leaders||Khair Bakhsh Marri|
|Area of operations||Balochistan, Pakistan
|Allies||Baloch Liberation Front
Baloch Republican Army
Balochistan Liberation United Front
|Battles and wars||Insurgency in Balochistan|
The Balochistan Liberation Army (Urdu: بلوچستان لبریشن آرمی; abbreviated BLA), also known as the Baloch Liberation Army is a Baloch militant organization based in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since 2004 the BLA has waged an armed struggle against the state of Pakistan for equal rights and self-determination for the Baloch people in Pakistan, who have been subjected to repression for decades. The BLA is operating mainly in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan where it carries out attacks against the Pakistan Armed Forces. The Baloch Liberation Army became publicly known during the summer of 2000, after it claimed credit for a series of bombing attacks on Pakistani authorities.
On 10 February 1973, Pakistani police and paramilitary raided the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad without prior permission of the Iraqi government, during which a large cache of small arms, ammunition, grenades and other supplies were found in crates marked 'Foreign Ministry, Baghdad'. The ammunition and weaponry was believed to be destined for Baloch rebels. Pakistan responded by expelling and declaring persona non grata the Iraqi Ambassador Hikmat Sulaiman and other consular staff. In a letter to President Nixon on February 14, Bhutto blamed India and Afghanistan, besides Iraq and the Soviet Union, for involvement in a "conspiracy ... [with] subversive and irredentist elements which seek to disrupt Pakistan's integrity"
Wright-Neville wrote that besides Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). However, in August 2013 US Special Representative James Dobbins said “The dominant infiltration of militants is from Pakistan into Afghanistan, but we recognise that there is some infiltration of hostile militants from the other direction as well."So Pakistan's concerns aren't groundless. They are simply, in our judgement, somewhat exaggerated."
Some have claimed that Hyrbyair Marri has been the group's leader since 2007, but in an interview in 2015 he denied having any contact with the group. Hyrbyair's brother Balach had led the group from 2000 until he was assassinated in 2007.
It has been claimed that Brahumdagh Bugti is one of the founders of the BLA. Pakistan has accused the BLA of being an Indian proxy, and Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for providing arms, training and financial aid to the BLA in an attempt to destabilize Pakistan However Hyrbyair Marri has denied the group has any links with India.
In a Wikileaks cable it was revealed that ISI believed, “India and the UAE (reportedly due to opposition to construction of the Gwadar port) were funding and arming the Baloch. Pasha also claimed that the Russian government was directly involved in funding/training/supporting the insurgency".
Pakistan designated the Balochistan Liberation Army as a terrorist organisation on 7 April 2006 after the group conducted a series of attacks targeting security personnel. On 17 July 2006, the British government followed suit, listing the BLA as a "proscribed group" based on the Terrorism Act 2000, although the U.K. has harboured Hyrbyair Marri, leader of the BLA, as a refugee, something Pakistani leader Raheel Sharif has strongly protested against. The group's actions have been described as terrorism by the United States Department of State.
On 14 December 2005, BLA militants launched six rockets at a paramilitary camp in Balochistan's Kohlu district that then-President Pervez Musharraf was visiting. Though Musharraf's life was never in any real danger, the Pakistani government labeled the attack an attempt on his life and initiated a sweeping army operation in Kohlu.
On 14 June 2009, masked gunmen shot dead Anwar Baig, a school teacher in Kalat. Baig had opposed recitation of the Baloch anthem in schools. The killing was part of a larger campaign against educators who were seen to be sympathetic to the Pakistani state.
On 30 July 2009, BLA militants kidnapped 19 Pakistani police in Sui, killed one and injured 16. Over the course of 3 weeks all but one of the kidnapped police were killed by their captors.
On 14 August 2010, BLA militants killed 6 Punjabi laborers and wounded 3 others while they were on their way home from work. The workers were targeted because they were Punjabi and, according to the BLA, taking part in the economic colonization of Balochistan.
On 21 November 2011, BLA insurgents attacked government security personnel who were guarding a private coal mine in the northern Musakhel district, killing 14 and wounding 10 more. The BLA claimed to have killed 40. On 31 December 31 2011, BLA militants placed a car bomb outside the house of Mir Naseer Mengal, a former minister of state, killing 13 and wounding 30 more.
On 21 December 2015, BLA militants bombed and then shot and killed 16 soldiers, wounding an additional 13 soldiers in two attacks in Marwar and Chamalang.
The Quaid-e-Azam Residency, a historical residence in Balochistan where Muhammad Ali Jinnah spent the last days of his life, was attacked by rockets on 15 June 2013. The building was nearly demolished as a result of the attack. Militants belonging to the Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility. The militants also removed the flag of Pakistan from the monument site, replacing it with a BLA flag. The reconstruction work was completed and the rehabilitated Ziarat Residency opened on August 14, 2014 by Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif.
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