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Page last updated at 08:12 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 09:12 UK

Riots as Baloch chiefs found dead

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Clashes broke out on Thursday after the bodies were discovered

A policeman has died in riots that have broken out following the discovery of the bodies of three ethnic leaders in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

The policeman was killed by protesters' gunfire in the town of Khuzdar.

Protesters say the three Baloch nationalist leaders were detained by security forces last Friday and had been missing since.

There has been a long-waged insurgency in Balochistan for a greater share of natural resources and more autonomy.

Set on fire

The mutilated and decomposed bodies of the three leaders were found by police before dawn near Turbat.

The three were named as Ghullam Muhammad Baloch, Lala Munir Baloch and Sher Muhammad Bugti.

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The BBC's Azizullah Khan in Quetta says Ghullam Muhammad Baloch was a leader of his own faction of the Balochistan National Movement and a key member of the committee set up to try to secure the release of abducted UN worker John Solecki, who was freed last Saturday.

Sher Muhammad Bugti was a leader of the Balochistan Republican Party.

The three were allegedly detained last Friday by security forces from the offices of a lawyer in Turbat who represents opposition parties in Balochistan.

After the bodies were found riots broke out in provincial capital Quetta, Khuzdar and a number of towns in the Makran division.

A number of banks and offices have been set on fire.

In Quetta, three policemen were injured when a grenade was thrown at a police van.

Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed to control the riots and tear gas has been fired at protesters in Quetta.

Police spokesman Ayaz Baloch told the BBC an investigation was under way but it was unclear who carried out the killings.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mohammad Aslam Raisani has ordered a judicial inquiry into the leaders' deaths.

Opposition activists had been demonstrating since the leaders disappeared on Friday, setting up a protest camp outside the press club in Quetta.

In August 2006, Balochistan experienced widespread rioting and strikes after the killing of tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti. Hundreds were arrested.

Writing recently on Balochistan, BBC columnist Ahmed Rashid pointed to the worsening situation in the province, where the wide-ranging political and economic grievances of the alienated Baloch people have remained largely forgotten and unaddressed.



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