11 Pakistani soldiers killed in southwest: officials
QUETTA - Agence France-Presse
Pakistani paramilitary soldiers secure the area during the religious procession in Quetta on January 15, 2012. AFP photoBaluch rebels attacked Pakistani security forces overnight, killing at least 11 soldiers and wounding another 12 in clashes that raged for five hours, officials said Wednesday.
Gunmen attacked two posts in the Margut area, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) east of Quetta, capital of the insurgency-torn southwestern province of Baluchistan. The soldiers were responsible for guarding coal mines, they said.
"About two dozen gunmen armed with light and heavy weapons attacked the Frontier Corps (paramilitary) posts and killed 11 soldiers," a senior military official said.
He said another 12 soldiers were wounded in the assault.
Other security officials confirmed the casualties.
The assailants belonged to a Baluch militant group led by Harbiar Marri who is living in self exile in London, the official said.
Baluch rebels have been fighting since 2004 for political autonomy and a greater share of profits from Baluchistan's wealth of natural oil, gas and mineral resources.
Wednesday's clashes continued for five hours, the senior military official said, adding that militants came from mountain hideouts and planted remote-controlled bombs to block reinforcements.
"Harbiar is responsible for these attacks. He has been guiding his militants from Europe to target security forces.
"We want to make it clear that the FC cannot be deterred by these attacks. The militants will be given a befitting reply," he added.
On January 26, a similar attack on a Pakistani checkpost killed six soldiers in Dera Bugti, 400 kilometres (250 miles) southeast of Quetta.
Pakistan is also fighting a Taliban insurgency in its northwestern border areas with Afghanistan, where 14 soldiers have been killed in the last week.