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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 16:46 GMT
Balochistan talks 'breakthrough'
Baloch tribesmen
Hundreds of tribesmen have gathered at Dera Bugti
A delegation sent by the Pakistani government to reduce tension in the southern province of Balochistan says that a "breakthrough" has been reached.

But it is not clear whether the talks will bring an end to the encirclement of 300 paramilitary troops by hundreds of tribals in the town of Dera Bugti.

Tribal chief Akbar Bugti said that the two member delegation only presented proposals to resolve the crisis.

Mr Bugti leads a tribal campaign to win autonomy and more gas revenues.

'Eventual solution'

Former Prime Minister and chief of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, Chaudhry Shujaat met Mr Bugti in Balochistan on Thursday.

Mr Shujaat was sent with Muslim League Secretary General Mushahid Hussain to ease tension in the Dera Bugti and Sui areas of the province.

There have been regular clashes between Bugti tribesman and security forces over the last three months which has resulted in heavy casualties on both sides.

Mr Hussain told the BBC that the meeting has "broken the deadlock" on the Balochistan crisis.

He said that talks had continued for more than four hours and would eventually lead to a solution.

But Mr Bugti said after the meeting that all the government did was present proposals for the resolution of the crisis which would be made public in a few days time.

The latest visit follows on from a similar trip to the area made by a 15 member parliamentary party made up of government and opposition members.

They are reported to be presenting their report to parliament shortly. Mr Bugti said after meeting them that he had "no compromises" to offer.

Angry crowds

Meanwhile on Thursday, three people were injured during clashes with security forces on Wednesday in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, police say.

The incident took place in the Gawadar area when officials tried to confiscate Iranian goods from a bus.

Police say that led to angry crowds throwing stones and the security forces firing in the air and using tear gas.

Nawab Akbar Bugti
Nawab Bugti says reconciliation can only be on Baloch terms

They say that order was restored when the seized goods were returned to the passengers after several hours of protests.

Locals say the goods comprised basic daily use items belonging to local people travelling on the bus.

The BBC's Azizullah Khan in Quetta says that many people in the area depend on Iranian goods, because Pakistani goods cannot reach this remote area which is a long distance from major cities.

Our correspondent says that transporters have called a strike - supported by all political parties in the area - to protest against the police action.




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