Separatists kill 2 Pakistan Navy soldiers in Gwadar
The Gwadar port in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province has been developed under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Photograph: (Facebook)
Two Pakistan Navy sailors were shot dead and at least three others injured when their vehicle was ambushed by Baloch separatist militants in Balochistan's Gwadar district on Monday, police said today.
A spokesman for the separatist Baluch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack.
The sailors were transporting food items to a naval base in the coastal city of Jiwani when four assailants on two motor bikes opened fire on their vehicle, senior police officer Abdul Hafeez Baloch told Reuters.
"One officer died on the spot while another succumbed while being moved to hospital," Baloch said, adding that three officers were wounded in the attack.
Security has been stepped up after the incident and a search operation launched to apprehend those involved in the attack, Pakistan daily Dawn.com reported.
Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri condemned the incident and said the government would not succumb to terrorism, Dawn.com reported.
The attacks come amid the signing of agreements between India and China aimed at increasing co-operation between the two countries.
Separatists in Balochistan -- Pakistan's poorest province -- have been waging attacks against the government for decades, claiming a greater share of the resources in the mineral and gas-rich region.
The separatists claim the state is taking over their lands and have targeted Chinese-funded projects.
Beijing has pledged $57 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship "Belt and Road" project that first focused on Chinese firms building roads and power stations but is now expanding to include setting up industries, Reuters reported.
China is also developing the strategic Gwadar port, which is central to the development of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
In May, BLA insurgents gunned down 13 Pakistani labourers working on CPEC-linked projects in Baluchistan in two separate attacks.
Taliban and other Islamist militants also operate in the province, which shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran.
Last month, Islamic State militants abducted and killed two Chinese nationals in Baluchistan's provincial capital Quetta.
Meanwhile, Gwadar International Airport will remain closed for one month in order to expand its runway, authorities said today.
Civil aviation sources told dunyanews.tv that the Gwadar airport runway will remain shut from July 1 to July 30, and that flight operations will remain suspended.