On Saturday, Pakistan’s army reported that four of its border patrol soldiers had been killed in an attack by a group operating from Iran. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack, which was claimed by the Baluch Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist group that has previously targeted Pakistani security forces and Chinese interests in the region. For decades, ethnic Baluch nationalist insurgent groups on both sides of the border have been fighting for a greater share of regional resources.
The attack occurred in the Kech district of southwestern Baluchistan province, which shares a lawless border with Afghanistan and Iran. The Baluchistan province is rich in natural resources, including natural gas and minerals, and is home to the Gawadar port, which is being developed with Chinese funds as part of Beijing’s $65 billion “Belt and Road” investment in Pakistan.
The Pakistani army stated that it was making contact with Iran to explore ways of preventing such incidents in the future. However, Iranian officials were unavailable for comment on Saturday, which was an annual holiday in Iran. In response to the attack, Iran’s embassy in Islamabad condemned terrorism and emphasized that it is a common issue for the two neighboring countries.