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Pakistani Forces Kill 25 in Restive Baluchistan

Tribesmen in the province, home to the country's main gas fields, are fighting for greater royalties.

July 06, 2006|From the Associated Press

QUETTA, Pakistan — Security forces targeted hide-outs of tribal militants accused of blowing up gas pipelines and attacking officials in troubled southeastern Pakistan, and 25 suspects were killed, a senior Cabinet minister said Wednesday.

The security forces also seized weapons, including rockets, land mines and other munitions, during the two-day operation near Sui, a town about 175 miles southeast of Quetta, Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said.

Sherpao called the operation "an important success" but did not elaborate.

Abdul Razak Bugti, spokesman for the government in Baluchistan province, said the slain men were supporters of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a tribal elder who is allegedly leading the insurgency in part of the province.

"The 25 people who were killed in the operation were the supporters of Nawab Akbar Bugti. We targeted them with 100% accuracy," the spokesman told reporters in Quetta.

He said the security forces, backed by helicopter gunships, suffered no losses.

The operation ended Wednesday near Sui, where Pakistan's main gas fields are located and where tribesmen have waged a campaign to press the government to increase royalties for extracted resources such as natural gas.

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