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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 17:30 GMT
Balochi anger over garrison plan
By Paul Anderson
BBC News, Islamabad

Bugti tribesmen
Balochi tribesmen have staged insurgencies three times before
Tribal leaders in a restive Pakistani province have reacted angrily to plans to build an army garrison on what they say is their land.

The army has confirmed plans to build one of three new bases in Balochistan at the massive Sui gas fields.

Shortly after, there were two small bombings designed to hit the power and railway networks.

Sui was the scene of violent clashes two weeks ago between tribal militants and security forces.

At least eight people were killed in those clashes.

Future warning

The crisis in Balochistan is fuelling anxiety nationwide of a bigger conflagration in waiting.


Suspected Balochi nationalist militants greeted confirmation of the army's intention to build a new garrison on their territory with a series of small bombings.

The first was aimed at electricity power lines. Then, for the second time this week, there was an attack on a railway line.

No-one was injured in the bombings.

The BBC's Paul Anderson in Islamabad say the attackers' idea was to flex their muscle by disrupting infrastructures in the area and to warn of the potential for more serious violence.

Things reached a head earlier this month when tribal militants launched a ferocious mortar attack on security forces at an installation in the Sui gas fields.

Clashes lasted several days and led to massive disruption of supplies to industries and homes.

The army moved in to secure those supplies, announcing late on Wednesday it would build a permanent garrison at the scene.

'Horror'

The federal authorities want to resume talks, but tribal leaders say the army must first withdraw and then cancel the plan to build the base.

Only then, tribal leaders say, can both sides discuss the Balochi nationalists' demands for more autonomy, a greater share of the wealth from the province's rich mineral reserves and more investment in development and employment.

The number of casualties in Balochistan so far may not be high, but many Pakistanis view what is going on there with absolute horror, our correspondent says.

They remember the brutal quashing of Balochi nationalists pressing the same demands in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Many Pakistanis feared the army was about to move in again two weeks ago after President Musharraf warned the militants they would not know what hit them unless they stopped fighting.


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