Pakistani security forces have killed 30 separatist fighters in an offensive in Balochistan, a senior official said, in one of the biggest clashes in months in the gas-rich province.

Provincial interior minister Sarfraz Bugti said on Monday security forces seized a large quantity of weapons during the raids. Ten members of a government paramilitary force were wounded in the fighting, Bugti told Reuters news agency.

Rebel spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

Separatist fighters seeking independence accuse the government of exploiting the gas and mineral reserves of the southwestern province but neglecting the poverty of its people.

The separatists often attack natural gas facilities such as pipelines as well as infrastructure and security-force posts in the gas-rich province.

The low-level separatist insurgency in Balochistan is one of the chronic security problems undermining stability in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Pakistan accuses old rival India of secretly supporting the separatists. India denies any meddling.

Source: Reuters