Suspected Baloch separatists have ambushed a convoy of paramilitary troops in the Turbat area of Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province, killing 14 soldiers, security officials said.

"The attackers first fired rocket-propelled grenades at the vehicles and then opened fire on them," one security official
told the Reuters news agency.

The incident took place in the town of Nawano, in the Turbat District, near the Iranian border. The soldiers were going to their post after purchasing groceries from a nearby market, a local administration official said.

Traveling in two vehicles, the soldiers were surrounded by fighters who opened fire, killing all of them, the official said. added.

Another official said the attack was so sudden that the soldiers did not have time to defend themselves. He said the attackers were believed to be at least two dozen in number.

The attack was claimed by a spokesman for the Baloch Liberation Front, a separatist group, in calls to television stations and newspapers.

In a similar ambush on November 21, fighters killed 14 soldiers in Musakhel district.

In December a car bomb blast in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta killed 15.

Quetta is the capital of the province which neighbours both Afghanistan and Iran and is gripped by a regional insurgency for self-determination.

Also a flashpoint for Taliban and sectarian violence, Balochistan is Pakistan's biggest but poorest province.

Source: Agencies