A rocket attack by unknown attackers has killed a policeman and gutted a historic summer retreat used by Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The attack happened in the early hours of Saturday in the resource-rich province of Balochistan, only days after a new government vowed to end an insurgency there.

Three rocket-propelled grenades slammed into the Quaid Azam Residency in the hill town of Ziarat, district commissioner Nadeem Tahir said.

A policeman died and the ensuing blaze tore through the two-storey wooden building, damaging several other houses nearby.

A police official said it appeared that the rockets were fired from nearby mountains.

Balochistan, a vast province bordering Iran and Afghanistan, has suffered a long-running armed independence movement, and what rights groups call a campaign of forced disappearances by security forces.


Balochistan supplies much of the natural gas feeding Pakistan's lifeline textile industry in eastern Punjab province, and is home to a deepwater port at Gwadar.

Saturday's attack was the first since a new chief minister of the province, which contains largely unexplored copper and gold deposits, took office last week.

Chief minister Abdul Malik has urged security forces, who deny wrongdoing, to end rights abuses and support his hopes of kindling talks with the fighters, who are seeking an independent homeland.

On the day chief minister Malik took oath, five bullet-riddled bodies were found in the province.

The discoveries were seen by many as a message that security forces were intent on continuing what human rights
groups have dubbed a systematic campaign of "kill-and-dump".

Jinnah stayed in the Quaid Azam Residency as he tried to recover from a lung disease in 1948, a year after his
successful campaign to separate Pakistan from India.

He died in Karachi soon after. The residency is a national heritage site.

Source: Agencies