Militants Attack Government Building at China's Port of Gwadar


Published Mar 21, 2024 3:57 PM by The Maritime Executive


Pakistan has been fighting back an ethnic insurgency in the southeastern province of Baluchistan for decades, and the arrival of an unpopular Chinese megaproject has exacerbated tensions. On Wednesday, 10 were killed in an insurgent attack on a port authority building near the Chinese port complex at Gwadar, a flash point for local complaints about the foreign presence. 

At about 1600 hours Wednesday, a suicide bomber blew up a car bomb near the Gwadar Port Authority building, a local police official told AP. Militants armed with guns and hand grenades attacked just after. Two security officers were killed, and all eight militants died in the exchange of fire. 

The Majeed Brigade of the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack and said that more details would be coming soon. 

"We strongly condemn this terrorist attack and express our grief for Pakistani personnel," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lin Jian. "China opposes all forms of terrorism, firmly supports Pakistan's national development and social stability, and firmly supports Pakistan's fight against terrorism."

The BLA has directly attacked Chinese interests in Balochistan. In August, two BLA fighters shot at a convoy of Chinese engineers who were on their way to the Port of Gwadar. 

Gwadar is the Chinese-operated maritime terminus for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the $45-60 billion centerpiece of China's Belt and Road Initiative. The massive CPEC project connects the Chinese province of Xinjiang to the sea with a network of new roads, rail lines and pipelines. The Pakistani government hopes that it will boost GDP by two percent and add two million jobs to the economy - but local businesses (and even Chinese officials) have expressed concern about whether it will succeed, given political hurdles and local opposition. While awaiting CPEC's completion and promised economic success, Pakistan faces pressure on its strained federal budget to service the multibillion-dollar loans it took out to build CPEC projects.