Baluch riots continue in Pakistan

Members of Pakistan's Baluch ethnic minority have rioted and held protests for a third day in protest at the army's killing of a Baluch separatist leader.

    Protesters have mainly attacked government property

    Thousands of Baluchs rioted in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, and other sporadic violence took place elsewhere in the country on Monday.

    At least two people have now died in the violence that broke out after the Pakistani army killed Nawab Akbar Bugti, 79, on Saturday.

    More than 500 people have been arrrested, police said.

    Fresh violence

    Five people were injured in clashes between protesters and police in the town of Pasni where several shops were set ablaze in the bazaar on Monday.

    Police fired tear gas and gunshots into the air to disperse a mob, a Pasni police spokesman said.

    In Gawadar, a remote town on the Arabian Sea coast, nearly 1,000 protesters set a bank and two shops on fire, local police said.

    Riots also broke out in Karachi, Pakistan's largest port city, where protesters torched two buses.

    Police fired also tear gas to disperse about 500 people who had gathered to offer prayers for Bugti and chanted, "We want freedom" and "Death to General Musharraf," referring to Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president.

    Politicans arrested

    Baluch politicians denounced the government in a rowdy provincial assembly session in Quetta and vowed to avenge the killing of Bugti, arguably the most prominent ethnic-Baluch leader since Pakistan was founded in 1947.

    "This is a major event in Baluch history. We didn't join this country in 1947 to have our tribal elders, political leaders and children killed," Kachkul Ali Baluch, an opposition leader, said.

    Three opposition members of parliament were briefly taken into custody in Quetta but were freed after questioning, said Mir Maqbool Ahmed Lehri, the city mayor.

    Bugti was a former provincial governor and an articulate champion for greater control by Baluch tribespeople of natural resources extracted in the region.

    He died after troops attacked his cave in the Kohlu area, about 220km east of Quetta.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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