The Balochistan Liberation Army's Female Suicide Bombers
Women in Terrorism
Last month in Pakistan, a female suicide bomber associated with the Balochistan Liberation Army conducted an attack, killing four individuals (including three Chinese teachers). Pakistani authorities said they subsequently disrupted other planned attacks by female bombers. While some have claimed that this was the first female bombing in Pakistan, my data suggests otherwise – there have been at least eight other attacks by women in the country, most of which were associated with the TTP.
I talk about many of these attacks in my 2017 book on women’s involvement in terrorism.
The Soufan Centre recently covered a series of attacks by the BLA, and describe the group as:
an ethnonationalist organization, designated by the United States as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), which opposes the Pakistani government and ultimately seeks to create a sovereign state that would include territories in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Historically, the BLA has primarily targeted Pakistani security forces in the Balochistan province and Karachi, a key economic hub close to the province. However, as China’s economic, political, and security inroads in Pakistan have increased over the past years—especially since the launch of the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2013—the BLA has also deliberately targeted Chinese nationals and interests in the country.
Much fuss was made about the fact that the female bomber wasn't a "radical Muslim". In fact, quite a number of female suicide bombings have been perpetrated by ethno-nationalist groups, and female suicide bombings are not the sole purview of jihadist groups. For example, the LTTE and the SSNP, as well as the PKK, have all perpetrated plenty of bombings using women.
So why would a group employ a female bomber? A few reasons: