Pak has nearly crushed Balochistan revolt: Governor | india | Hindustan Times
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Pak has nearly crushed Balochistan revolt: Governor

india Updated: Aug 03, 2006 13:30 IST
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Pakistani forces have nearly crushed an insurgency led by a tribal chieftain in the restive southwest province of Balochistan, the provincial governor said.

Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani said late on Wednesday that the government controlled "99 per cent" of the area around Dera Bugti town, the former stronghold of elderly insurgent leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.

The autonomy-seeking rebels say they are fighting for greater political rights and a bigger share of profits from gas-rich Balochistan's natural resources.

In an offensive launched after rockets landed near President Pervez Musharraf on a visit to Balochistan in December, 84 tribal rebels and 42 Pakistani troops had died, he said.

Sixty-two civilians including women and children had also been killed, mostly by rebel landmines, he told reporters in the provincial capital Quetta.

Pakistani forces had used helicopters and spy drones and had received US aid to tackle the insurgents, he said.

Hundreds of tribal fighters had also surrendered under an amnesty programme while large quantities of ammunition, rockets and landmines had been recovered, he added.

Ghani alleged that the rebels were receiving up to 500 million rupees (eight million dollars) a year from "foreign supporters", without specifying who they were.

Pakistan in January said it had evidence that its nuclear-armed rival India was involved in the troubles in Balochistan.

The tribal rebels have carried out almost daily attacks since the insurgency began two years ago, targeting gas pipelines, electricity lines, railway tracks and government and army installations.

Islamabad launched its latest crackdown late last year after the rocket attack that apparently targeted military ruler Musharraf in the remote Balochistan town of Kohlu.

Chieftain Bugti fled into the mountains and attacks have tailed off in recent weeks.

The rebels have posed a dual headache for Musharraf in Balochistan, where coalition forces in Afghanistan say fundamentalist Taliban insurgents have found sanctuary.

Governor Ghani said the problem was in the opposite direction and that "Pakistan lodged many times its protest over arms and ammunition from Afghanistan to terrorists in Balochistan."

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