Claim: Thermal imagery shows a Pakistani military helicopter killing four Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) insurgents after they attacked the second largest airbase PNS Siddique in Turbat on 25 March 2024.

Fact: The video is not recent. The imagery is at least 13 years old and does not show the military operation that killed five insurgents. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the military, has not released any video footage of the attacks, and there’s no official confirmation of it either.

On 25 March 2024, X (formerly Twitter) user @JunejoAsma1 posted (archived) video footage showing a helicopter’s targeted aerial attack on four people on the ground. Her X post alleges that the video shows “Exclusive Footages of BLA Terrorist Pakistan Zindabad #Turbat #Balochistan”

The hashtags #Turbat and #Balochistan imply that the video shows the Pakistan Army’s retaliatory attack on members of the BLA after the militants’ recent attack on the naval air base at Turbat in southwestern Pakistan.

Several other users posted the misleading footage that soon went viral.

 

Rising insurgent attacks

In recent months, armed separatist group the Balochistan Liberation Army has carried out several deadly attacks in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan.

Security forces foiled their recent attack on Pakistan’s second largest naval base, PNS Siddique in Turbat, killing five insurgents on 25 March.

Majeed Brigade, the armed wing of BLA, notorious for using female suicide bombers, claimed responsibility for the Turbat attack.

The armed wing also attacked the Gwadar Port Authority complex, an integral part of the billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), on 20 March. All eight insurgents involved were killed after a two-hour security operation.

The deadliest was the group’s complex attack in Mach, Balochistan, which began with a volley of rockets fired from the mountains on the night of 29 January. The insurgents then attacked the police station, railway station and central jail in Mach, where the exchange of fire lasted for about 12 hours.

Since journalists have limited or no access to certain areas in Balochistan, it’s difficult to verify the exact nature of the attack and casualties on both sides in the early hours of each security operation. Often, armed groups claim high numbers of casualties, which pale in comparison to the conservative statistics released by the official security agencies and vice versa, thereby creating a vacuum for disinformation about conflict in the region.

 

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check conducted a Google Reverse Image search of keyframes of the footage, which led to YouTube videos, articles and other social media posts using the exact same footage. One video dates back as early as 2010. It apparently shows gun technology developed by two different companies being tested on targets in the footage.

We observed that over the years, the footage in question has been linked to different armed conflicts and circulated online under different titles: One headline of an article from July 2021, which uses an image from the video, claims that the video is actually, “Footage released showing US choppers transferring Daesh terrorists across Iraq.”

The clip being circulated in Pakistan was also found as part of a longer 2014 YouTube video (at timestamp: 1:17), where the description explains how the new thermal technology shown in the footage would give “American Rifleman” an advantage in modern warfare. The English language audio and the accent spoken further confirms the footage does not show the Pakistani military carrying out a targeted operation.

Furthermore, neither the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the military, nor the Pakistan government have released any official video footage of the recent attacks in Turbat. Additionally, no reputable news organisations have included the thermal video footage in their coverage of the incident.

Therefore, Soch Fact Check concludes that the viral footage showing BLA targets attacked by the Pakistan military is misleading. The footage is not recent and is not linked to the Pakistan military.

 

Virality

The misleading post on X garnered at least 141,000 views. It was also shared on X here and here.

The misleading footage was also shared on Instagram, and on YouTube.

Conclusion: Thermal imagery does not show BLA separatists getting killed by Pakistan’s security forces. The video in question is old and does not have anything to do with the Pakistan military.

Background image in cover photo: Dunya News

To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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