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Cave collapse killed Bugti: Pakistan

The statement has been made in an effort to deflect criticism of the military operation that killed Bugti.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2006 19:38 IST

In an effort to deflect mounting criticism of its military operation that killed Balochistan's separatist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, Pakistani authorities are now saying that the cave in which the Baloch leader was hiding collapsed due to an explosion.

Giving the official version to counter what he called "deliberate disinformation," Major General Shaukat Sultan, Director General, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), said: "A guide was sent into the cave. The moment he came out, the Commanding Officer immediately rushed into the cave along with two other officers and troops.

When the officers went inside the cave, a large explosion occurred and the cave collapsed."

Sultan said a Bugti tribe guide accompanying the paramilitary forces confirmed that Akbar Bugti was inside the cave.

The guide survived, being behind the officers at the time of the cave's collapse.

"Yes, he (guide) met and spoke to Akbar Bugti," The Nation newspaper quoted Sultan as telling the media.

"Akbar Bugti was hiding in a cave that collapsed after a big explosion burying the officers who were entering the cave to talk to Bugti."

He said a heavy cache of arms has been recovered from the spot besides a box containing an amount of Rs 100 million (About $16,00,000).

"Another box contains $96,000, few papers and check books."

Sultan said it could have been an explosion or firing that caused the collapse of the cave.

"We are not sure about it as the people who could have the knowledge were buried under the rubble.

Two bodies of the officers were taken out the same evening while the remaining three bodies were taken out on August 27."

To a question, Sultan reiterated that probably the officers went inside the cave to talk and negotiate with Akbar Bugti but the cave collapsed.

"Every effort was being made to apprehend him (Bugti) alive and not to kill him."

Giving details of the incident on August 26, near Kohlu, Balochistan, he said he was unable to confirm the presence of Bugti's two grandsons inside the cave.

He said the army engineers had carried out survey of the site and in their opinion the debris could only be removed manually.

"Army engineers are prepared to work and the whole process, if started, will likely to take four to five days."

He said the engineers were dispatched who carried out survey of the collapsed cave. In their opinion any use of explosive to remove the rubble was likely to result in the complete collapse of the cave.

"The use of heavy machinery is also highly dangerous as a minor vibration can result into the collapse of the whole structure.

There is also no place for heavy machinery to work there," Sultan added.