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Monday, February 27, 2006

Militants attack train in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Suspected tribal militants attacked a train in Pakistan's southwest province of Baluchistan on Monday, opening fire on paramilitary guards on board but there were no casualties, officials said.

The train was attacked near Baneri, around 80 km (50 miles) southeast of Baluchistan's capital Quetta, and derailed when the driver braked after hearing an explosion, said a senior railway official.

An engine and two carriages jumped the track, but did not overturn and no one on board the Lahore-bound train was injured either in the derailment or the firing, Mohammad Mushtaq, Chief Controller of Pakistan Railways' Quetta Division, told Reuters.

Earlier on Monday, three paramilitary troopers were wounded after coming under fire from gunmen while escorting railway workers to repair a section of track damaged by an explosion in the Harnai area of northern Baluchistan. One of the troopers later died from his wounds, a doctor said.

Baluchistan's Home Minister, Shoaib Nausherwani, said tribal militants were to blame in both cases, and accused them of waging a campaign against government employees.

"We suspect today's incidents are links of the chain of attacks by miscreants. They want to target government servants and people from Punjab," Nausherwani said.

Secessionists and tribal rebels have stepped up a militant campaign in mineral-rich but sparsely populated Baluchistan and much of the violence has centred on an area that is home to Pakistan's largest gas field in the east of the province.

They want to benefit more from the local resources and say they are being exploited by the central government and neighbouring Punjab.
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