Pakistan welcomes US' terrorist designation of BLA separatist group

Pakistani passengers and villagers gather after a remote-controlled bomb exploded on a railway line in Nasirabad in the province of Balochistan, on March 17, 2019.
Pakistani passengers and villagers gather after a remote-controlled bomb exploded on a railway line in Nasirabad in the province of Balochistan, on March 17, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (DPA) - Pakistan has welcomed a US decision declaring the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) separatist group, which operates in the south-western province of Balochistan, as a global terrorist group.

"BLA is an armed separatist group that targets security forces and civilians, mainly in ethnic Baloch areas of Pakistan," the State Department said on Tuesday (July 2).

The US now classifies the BLA as a global terrorist group, making it a crime for anyone in the United States to assist the militants and freezing any US assets they may have.

The group has been officially banned in Pakistan since 2006.

Of the US decision, Pakistan said: "It is hoped that this designation will ensure that BLA's space to operate is minimised."

"It is important that the perpetrators, organisers, financiers and external sponsors, including those glorifying these acts of terror against Pakistan, are held accountable and brought to justice," the foreign ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The group has carried out several terrorist attacks in the past. In May, the group attacked a luxury hotel in Gwadar, a port city on the Arabian Sea built by China as part of a trade route through Pakistan.

In August 2018, a suicide attack targeting Chinese engineers in Balochistan and an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in November were also carried out by the BLA.

Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province, bordering both Afghanistan and Iran. The region has bore the brunt of a recent increase in violence by Islamist militants and ethnic Baloch rebels fighting for independence.