4 paramilitary troops killed in Pakistan suicide blast
Four paramilitary troops were killed and six others injured in a suspected suicide attack in southwestern Balochistan province Wednesday, according to police and local media reports,A PA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.
The suspected bomber detonated his suicide vest near a security checkpoint on the outskirts of provincial capital Quetta, private broadcaster Dawn News reported quoting police officials.
The attack took place hours after gunmen ambushed a police vehicle in a busy Quetta street killing two policemen.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which is the latest in a string of ambushes on security forces in the mineral-rich province by the Taliban militants and the Baloch separatists.
Balochistan -- Pakistan’s largest province in terms of size -- borders Iran and Afghanistan. Although, its inhabitants are some of the poorest in the country, it is strategically important due to its largely unexploited rich copper, zinc and natural gas reserves.
The province has been plagued by violence for over six decades; separatists claim it was forcibly incorporated into Pakistan at the end of British rule in 1947.
Over the course of the last decade, the province -- especially capital Quetta -- has also faced a deadly wave of sectarian violence in which over 2,200 people have been killed.
The province is also a key route in the $46 billion mega project, the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which aims to connect China's strategically-important northwestern Xinxiang province to Balochistan’s Gwadar port through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil and gas.
With its 600-kilometer (373-mile) long coastline, Gwadar is a key deep seaport currently operated by China, which provides it with direct access to the Indian Ocean.
The economic corridor will not only provide China cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East but will also enable Pakistan to earn billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.
The aggressive joint venture annoys the South Asian nuclear giant, India, which sees the project as a threat to its interests in the region, and has openly declared its opposition to that.
Not only India, but the project is facing opposition from Balochistan’s separatists who see it as “yet another bid by Islamabad “to steal resources” with China’s help.
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