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Tribal-militants blow up railway tr ack in baluchistan

Written by: Staff

QUETTA, Pakistan, May 1 (Reuters) Tribal militants fighting for greater autonomy in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan today blew up a railway track and bridge, officials said.

The attacks came a day after the government banned Baluch nationalist leaders from travelling outside Pakistan. Three of the ten leaders on the government blacklist were members of parliament.

The militants used heavy explosives to blow up a railway track and bridge in Noushki and Kohlu districts.

Railway officials said six bombs were planted on the track linking the provincial capital Quetta with the Iranian border town of Zahidan, but only two exploded.

''God saved us from great damage as four other bombs did not go off and were defused,'' Mushtaq Ahmed, a railway official in Noushki, told Reuters.

A banned militant group, Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), claimed responsibility for the attacks.

On Sunday night, rebels in Dera Bugti district fired rockets at a paramilitary wounding two troopers.

Dera Bugti sits atop Pakistan's largest gas reserves, and is a stronghold of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a rebel chieftain who accuses the central government of exploiting Baluchistan's resources without passing on the benefits to ethnic Baluchs.

A simmering conflict in Baluchistan flared anew in December after tribesmen mounted a rocket attack during a visit by President Pervez Musharraf.

Militants regularly blow up gas pipelines, railway lines and electricity transmission lines, and launch rocket attacks on government buildings and army bases.

To win back support in the poorest of Pakistan's four provinces, Musharraf has announced plans for major infrastructure projects in Baluchistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan.


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