At least three people lost their lives and 26 others were wounded when a remote-controlled device blew up in Lahore’s New Anarkali Market. A couple of hours after the blast, a Twitter handle purportedly from one Mureed Baloch said that Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA) has claimed responsibility for the blast.
There are several Baloch
nationalist groups that are operating in the country, but BNA has not been
heard of previously.
Officials have confirmed that the group was created as recently as this month.
The Transnational Terrorists Intelligence Group (TTIG) of Sindh Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) investigates threats from terrorist groups. Its chief Raja Umar Khattab told SAMAA Digital that BNA is a new terrorist group that has been formed by a merger of the banned Baloch Republican Army and United Baloch Army (UBA).
Khattab says the merger or alliance emerged on January 11, 2022, when the group was formed. This explains why many officials were surprised when the BNA claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack. Most of the information about the group was gathered after the blast.
The TTIG chief said the Lahore
blast was the second terrorist attack claimed by this new group in two days. It
claimed to have carried out an attack on a security convoy in Balochistan’s Kech
on January 19.
He said it was not clear who was heading this new group, but
Mureed Baloch claims to be its spokesperson.
Counter-terrorism experts believe the group could carry out more attacks.
The banned outfits that
were merged to form BNA have a similar history.
BRA is a banned terrorist organization headed by Brahumdagh Bugti. It was founded in 2006 and the government of Pakistan banned it in September 2010.
UBA is also a banned Baloch separatist group. Its chief Mehran Marri is the brother of the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) chief Hyrbyair Marri. Mehran Marri was initially associated with BLA, but he later formed another faction after developing differences with his brother. The Pakistan government banned this group on March 15, 2013.
Khattab says Baloch separatist groups are trying to extend their operation outside Balochistan to make their presence felt.