US designates Baloch militants in Pak as terrorists

US designates Baloch militants in Pak as terrorists

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: The United States on Tuesday designated the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which is fighting Pakistani rule in Balochistan province, as a terrorist organisation.

The group has carried out a number of terror attacks in Balochistan. Pakistan has already classified the outfit as a terrorist organisation and has been urging the US to do the same.

“The BLA is an armed separatist group that targets security forces and civilians, mainly in ethnic Baloch areas of Pakistan,” the State Department said in its designation.

The department made it a crime for anyone in the US to assist the BLA militants and freezing any US assets they may have.

The BLA has carried out several terrorist attacks last year, including a suicide attack in August that targeted Chinese engineers in Balochistan and an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in November that claimed four lives.

In May this year, five people, including a soldier, were killed after BLA gunmen stormed a five-star hotel in the port city of Gwadar.

Welcoming the US’ move, Pakistan said it hopes that the action will ensure that the 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 Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, the US also sanctioned Hezbollah operative Husain Ali Hazzima, chief of the Beirut-based terrorist group’s intelligence unit.

It also updated its sanctions list to reflect a name change of the Iranian Sunni Muslim terrorist group Jundallah to Jaysh al-Adl.

Jundallah, which was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation in 2010, began using the new name Jaysh al-Adl and associated aliases in 2012, the state department statement said.

Since its inception, the group has engaged in numerous attacks that have killed scores of Iranian civilians and government officials, including a February 2019 suicide bombing and an October 2018 kidnapping of Iranian security personnel, it said. PTI

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