June 12, 2006

Bomb in Quetta, Pakistan kills five, wounds 17

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - A bomb exploded on a road in
the Pakistani town of Quetta on Monday, killing five people and
wounding 17, police and a hospital official said.

Autonomy-seeking militants from the nationalist Baluch
Liberation Army (BLA) were believed to be responsible, a police
official said.

The BLA is fighting for control of gas resources in
Baluchistan, Pakistan's largest but poorest province and its
biggest source of natural gas. Quetta is the provincial

"We received four dead bodies and 18 injured while one
child succumbed to his wounds in a ward," said Abdul Rahim, the
senior doctor on duty at Quetta's main hospital, bringing the
total number of dead so far to five.

Three of the wounded were in critical condition, he said.

"I was sitting outside my shop when a powerful explosion
went off. It completely destroyed three shops," said
Inayatullah, one of the wounded men, from his hospital bed.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bomb, which
police said was planted on a bicycle left at a roadside near a
hotel and a police station.

Senior provincial policeman Ghulam Mohammad Dogar said he
suspected the bomb was the work of BLA militants, who have
claimed responsibility for previous attacks in the area.

The militants say the people of Baluchistan receive little
benefit from its natural gas. They have attacked gas
facilities, blowing up pipelines, as well as railway lines,
security checkpoints and other government targets.

Last month, the BLA claimed responsibility when five bombs
exploded in a police training camp on the outskirts of Quetta,
killing six policemen. The government declared the group a
terrorist organization in April.

The Baluch nationalist rebels have no links to al Qaeda-
and Taliban-linked fighters based on the border with
Afghanistan, security officials say.

The rebels have waged a low-key insurgency for decades but
their campaign has intensified over the past year. Pakistan
accused its old rival India of meddling in the province, which
borders Afghanistan.

The government mounted a sweeping offensive in the 1970s
aimed at finishing off the rebels.