April 2, 2006

Bombs, land mine kill 5 in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - A series of bomb and land mine
blasts on Sunday killed at least five people and wounded
several more in tribal rebel areas of Pakistan's southwestern
province of Baluchistan, government officials said.

Ethnic Baluch tribesmen fighting for more autonomy and
greater benefits from mineral resources, including Pakistan's
largest gas fields, were suspected of being behind two
bombings, in Kohlu and Bolan districts, some 400 km (250 miles)
and 250 km east of the provincial capital Quetta.

The blasts took place in a government dairy farm in Kohlu,
and a field camp of the Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL).

A firefight which erupted between militants and security
forces after the explosion at the PPL camp killed two soldiers
and wounded eight.

"The fighting is still on," a security official told
Reuters in condition of anonymity.

Two people were killed and 10 wounded in the blast at the
government farm. Naeem Lehri, district coordination officer,
said he suspected tribal rebels were responsible.

Elsewhere, a trolley driver was killed in Naseerabad, some
200 km (120 miles) southeast of Quetta, when his vehicle hit a
land mine.

The rebels regularly blow up gas pipelines, railway lines
and electricity transmission lines, and attack army bases and
government buildings and facilities.

Large parts of Baluchistan were still without power on
Sunday after the militants blew up four electricity pylons on

A simmering revolt flared in December when rebel tribesmen
fired rockets at a Baluch town during a visit by President
Pervez Musharraf.

Critics of Musharraf say hundreds of people have been
killed during an army campaign using helicopter gunships to
quell the tribes, but analysts say the numbers are probably

A protest on Sunday against the army campaign drew a crowd
of around 7,000 opposition party activists, who marched on the
outskirts of Quetta chanting anti-Musharraf slogans.

Musharraf has announced plans for major infrastructure
projects in Baluchistan to win back support in the poorest of
Pakistan's four provinces.