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Military says it has finished Baloch revolt

Pakistan military has claimed that it has 'finished off' the rebellion mounted by the nationalists demanding more autonomy.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2006 17:24 IST

Pakistan military has claimed that it has "finished off" the rebellion mounted by the nationalists demanding more autonomy and self-rule in the troubled southwestern Balochistan province.

The "Balochistan separatist bubble", led by Baloch tribal leader Nawab Akhbar Bugti, has finally burst, an account of military briefing published in newspapers here said on Thursday.

"The organised mayhem is finished off and the separatists plans these sub-nationalist terrorists organisations were making with material support from India have been knocked off," a military official was quoted as saying by The News.

Claiming that dozens of Bugti's commanders had been surrendering, the official, however, said the military had no knowledge of the whereabouts of 70-year-old Bugti, who was leading the armed revolt from his hideouts in Balochistan.

"We do not know exactly where Bugti is, but we think he is now in the hands of Marris (a Baloch tribe) and a hostage to their wills and whims as he is and his powers have been reduced to minimum and confined to a limited area," he said.

Even as the Army officials claimed victory in suppressing the Baloch nationalist movement, which demanded more autonomy for the sparsely populated largest province of Pakistan endowed with lot of natural resources including natural gas, Pakistan military launched a fresh operation against 'Farari Camps' in the hilly areas of Harnai, Sibi and Karmo-Wadh on Wednesday.

'Farari Camps' is a term used to describe militant training camps and hideouts.

Helicopter gunships were seen shelling Spin Tangi, Babar Kach, Tandori, Jalri, Sangan and some areas between Harnai and Sibi, it said.

Other reports said Pakistan Army is pressing into service new sets of helicopters provided by the United States to fight Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Militants claimed that 10 to 12 helicopter gunships took part in the operation and jet fighters were also seen in the area. They did not say anything about casualties.

"No information is available because of the intense shelling in the area," Allah Bakhsh Mari, an elder of the Mari tribe was quoted as saying.