The bomb blast at the Anarkali market in Lahore, Pakistan, has left the city shocked as reports have emerged of three people being dead, and nearly 26 injured. While Prime Minister Imran Khan has condemned the bombing and urged local authorities to ensure that victims get the best medical resources, the Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA) has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

They said that the explosion was orchestrated by them, targeting employees of the Habib Bank. A detailed statement claims how this attack is a protest against the violence and killing of women and children by Pakistani troops in Balochistan.  

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The BNA was formed recently, after the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and the United Baloch Army (UBA) announced that they were dissolving their individual units to form the new organization.  

The announcement came from BRA spokesman Beebagr Baloch and UBA spokesman Mureed Baloch, who stated that the councils of both the former organizations met in an attempt to decide how best to consolidate and carry forward the resistance against Pakistani forces. They also took stock of the political situation in Balochistan, in this meeting. 

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Mureed Baloch, who issued the initial statement claiming responsibility for the Lahore bombing is the official spokesperson for the newly formed BNA, and the group is part of the larger Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS). Their official channel is ‘Baask’. This outfit’s central command council is tasked with organizing and planning resistance against Pakistani forces. 

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The new unification signifies a move towards expanding the national base of resistance and attempting to unite formerly fragmented Baloch forces against the Pakistani military. BRAS is now an armed nationalist organization, after this merger, and represents nearly all nationalist armed factions in Balochistan. This gives the groups a greater opportunity to share intelligence, weapons, intelligence and safe havens, allowing operations to be conducted more effectively. 

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Notably, the people of Balochistan maintain that they’re an independent nation as per freedom granted by the British government in 1947. However, Pakistani forces were allegedly sent to forcibly annex the region, without consideration for the resolution passed by the legislative assembly of Balochistan.