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Ahead of Trump-Imran Khan Meet, US Designates Baloch Militants in Pakistan as Terrorists

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

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.

Washington/Islamabad: Ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan this month, America on Tuesday designated the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which is fighting Pakistani rule in Balochistan province, 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 have been urging the US to do the same.

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

Pakistan welcomed the move, saying it hoped that the action would ensure that the BLA’s space to operate is minimised.

It is important that the perpetrators, organisers, financers 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.

(With PTI inputs)