Those following the ongoing armed struggle between Pakistani security forces and rebels in Balochistan would have heard the phrase “fire raid,” many a times. Coined by Pakistan Army, this term is used to describe a terrorist attack on a security installation or post which is launched from a distance sufficient to allow attackers to cause damage, yet evade defensive fire from the target area. While such attacks do provide a high degree of inherent safety to the attacker, the defender too enjoys the definite advantage of additional safety, since firing from long range adversely impacts both accuracy and lethality of ordinary weapons and munitions available with rebel groups.
Casualty probability is further reduced if those being targeted have field fortifications for protection, or when such attacks are carried out at night, as darkness severely impairs precision firing. Hence, in order to achieve any meaningful results from a “fire raid,” the attacker needs to have the requisite preponderance of firepower or sophisticated weapon systems that offsets the aforesaid disadvantages, which Balochi rebels don’t have. This is why the statement of Pakistan Army’s media wing Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) that 10 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a “fire raid” when their check post in Kech district of Balochistan was attacked on the night of January 25-26, comes as a big surprise.
ISPR’s statement giving details of casualties that occurred in this incident reads: “While repulsing terrorists’ fire raid, 10 soldiers embraced martyrdom.” This sentence rings a bell, because just two years ago, in its press release [No PR-256/2020-ISPR, dated December 27, 2020] on another such attack, ISPR stated that “Terrorists’ fire raid on Frontier Corps Balochistan post in Sharig, Harnai, Balochistan late last night. During intense exchange of fire, 7 brave soldiers embraced shahadat while repulsing raiding terrorists.” There are at least three uncanny similarities in these two incidents. One, both were “fire raids,” two, both occurred at night, and three, these “fire raids” were ‘repulsed’. This implies that the attackers weren’t able to penetrate the periphery of the check post.
More details of the latest “fire raid” in Kech are not known, but with so many similarities between the two incidents, there are good reasons to believe that in all probability, ISPR is concealing facts just like it did in the December 2020 Harnai case. In February 2021, a video of this attack was posted by Baloch Liberation Army [BLA] on YouTube. Titled “Baloch fighters (BLA) capturing Pakistan Army base. 11 Pakistan army soldiers killed,”
This video captures the entire sequence of the December 26, 2020 attack on Harnai post and reveals the following:
*This incident occurred in broad daylight and not at night as claimed by ISPR.
* Baloch rebels can be attacking the checkpost and after subduing resistance physically entering it-belying ISPR’s contention that this incident was a “fire raid.”
* The video shows closeups of the huge stockpile of arms, ammunition and equipment belonging to FC personnel and presence of Baloch fighters inside the check post, which leaves no room for doubt in anyone’s mind that the Harnai post was physically overrun by Baloch rebels. Hence ISPR’s claim that this attack was repulsed is absolutely false.
The biggest giveaway that the truth regarding the Kech checkpost attack is being suppressed comes from the fact that there were no non-fatal casualties amongst the Pakistani security force personnel during this attack. Whereas it’s not a must that every attack on a checkpost would have non-fatal casualties, but 100 percent fatality in a “fire raid” is very unlikely. Readers would recall that in the November 2011 Salala attack, mistaken identity led to the US Air Force attacking two Pakistan Army checkposts.
Even though targeted by two AH-64D Apache Longbows, one AC-130H Spectre gunship and two F-15E Eagle fighter jets, all equipped with precision guided, high-tech munitions which completely destroyed both checkposts and left 28 dead, 12 soldiers still survived as they had suffered non-fatal casualties and were immediately attended to by their comrades. So, 10 soldiers losing their lives in the Kech attack, and not a single injured soldier surviving raises suspicions that the wounded were abandoned by their comrades and died either due to lack of timely medical assistance, or were dispatched by the attackers who overran the post. Whatever be the case, the fact of the matter is that the ISPR account of what really happened on the fateful night of January 25-26 isn’t very convincing, and thanks to its track record of peddling falsehood, few will buy its “fire raid” yarn. Let’s hope a video of this attack is released so that the kith and kin of the deceased soldiers come to know the truth of how their loved ones met their end.