Gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on construction workers, killing 10 in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan, officials said Saturday.
Mineral-rich Balochistan has been plagued for decades by a separatist uprising and sectarian killings. Gunmen have previously targeted labourers seen as outsiders in the region.
“Two gunmen riding on motorbikes opened fire on a group of construction workers in Peshukan Ganz neighbourhood of Gwadar,” local administration official Munir Zamari told AFP news agency.
The attack has been claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), an armed separatist group that has been fighting for an independent homeland for the ethnic Baloch.
“We accept responsibility for the Gwadar attack,” BLA spokesperson Jeander Baloch said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera.
“This conspiratorial plan [CPEC] is not acceptable to the Baloch people under any circumstances. Baloch independence movements have made it clear several times that they will not abandon their people’s future in the name of development projects or even democracy.”
Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, but its seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.
The BLA is among a number of armed groups that have been fighting the Pakistani state for about a decade, targeting security forces and civilians, mainly in ethnic Baloch areas.
A greater push towards peace and development by Pakistani authorities has reduced the violence considerably in recent years.
The push includes starting work on a massive Chinese infrastructure project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which gives Beijing a route to the Arabian Sea through Balochistan’s deep sea port of Gwadar.