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Tribal leader accuses Pak of using tanks, choppers

August 20, 2004 20:25 IST

A tribal leader in the restive Baluchistan has accused Pakistan army of using tanks and helicopter gunships to quell "agitation against outsiders."
This contradicts official versions that no military operation was held in the province.

Prominent Baluch tribal leader, Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti, who heads the Jamhoori Watan Party, told reporters in Pakistan's Hyderabad on Thursday that a number of areas in the province were devastated due to attacks by rockets, missiles and heavy bombing.

Tanks, gunships, helicopters, army and para-military forces were being used right from Turbat to Gwadar in Baluchistan, Bugti was quoted as saying by the local media.

President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Sujaat Hussain have denied reports of any military operations there.

Recently, Pakistan military personnel were attacked in the provincial capital Quetta. Bomb attacks were reported from Gwadar, where a new port is coming up with Chinese aid.

Bugti said the attacks were due to rising resentment over political and economic exploitation of the province by successive governments without any benefits for locals.

Bugti said recent attacks on army personnel and the chief minister was a reaction to the military operations. He named three resistance groups -- Balochistan Liberation Army, Baloch Liberation Front and People's Liberation Army as the groups that spearheaded the militancy.

He also said locals opposed the construction of army cantonments. Musharraf had asserted that the cantonments would be built to beef up security for the province.


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