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Last Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Fighter jets used in Balochistan
Tribesman in Balochistan
Tribesman say they are fighting for greater economic rights
The Pakistani Air Force chief has acknowledged that fighter jets have been used in Balochistan province against tribal rebels and militants.

Air Chief Tanwir Mahmood Ahmed told a news conference that the air force would continue to be used whenever and wherever the government desired.

Tribal leaders have claimed that in the past few months civilians have been targeted by the air force.

But the government had always rejected such claims in the past.

Gas-rich Balochistan has seen months of violence as tribal groups push for greater political and economic rights.

Energy hub

Security forces stepped up their crackdown on the militants following a failed assassination attempt on President Pervez Musharraf during a visit to the province in December.

Rebel tribesmen have been accused of attacking officials and government buildings as well as blowing up gas pipelines in the province, Pakistan's biggest and poorest.

The government is pumping millions of dollars into Balochistan with the aim of turning it into a regional economic and energy hub.

It has also been building military garrisons to secure the investments, which officials say will bring development to the people.

But many Baloch resent the growing presence of the armed forces - seen as imposing Islamabad's agenda - and support for the tribal rebels is growing, correspondents say.


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