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Sunday, July 09, 2006

23 killed in Dera Bugti operation

QUETTA, Pakistan July 9 (DAWN): Security Forces claimed on Sunday to have killed 23 militants of the Bugti tribe and injured 12 others in Sangsilla and Bhambhoor areas of the Dera Bugti district.

Balochistan government spokesman Raziq Bugti confirmed the report, while some sources put the death toll at 25.

The spokesman termed the ongoing action as a ‘search operation’.

He claimed that 53 tribesmen, including Wadera Fazil Khan Bugti, had surrendered in the troubled area and announced their support for the government.

The sources said that a helicopter gunship had hit the vehicle of Nawabzada Baramdagh Bugti, grandson of Nawab Bugti, during the operation in Bhambhoor area, but he was not in the vehicle.

Troops had neither found the bodies of the militants nor the injured people as tribesman had taken them away, Raziq Bugti said, adding that casualty figures had been given on the basis of communication intercepted by officials concerned.

On the other hand, the Dera Bugti district coordination officer claimed that some of the bodies had been found by security forces and injured people were being brought to the Sui hospital.

He told newsmen on telephone that a decision regarding the arrest of injured militants would be taken after they had been treated. However, the official spokesman did not confirm the DCO’s claim.

The sources said that security forces resumed the operation after about 24 hours and used helicopter gunships, long-range artillery and mortars against militants’ hideouts and camps in the hilly area from Sangsilla to Bhambhoor.

“At least seven camps and hideouts of Bugti militants were destroyed in the operation,” the sources said.

They claimed that bunkers being used by militants for attacks on forces in Sangsilla and Bhambhoor had been destroyed.

“The operation is in progress and will continue till the goal is achieved,” official sources said.

According to another report, security forces have arrested four tribesmen from the Loti gas field area after a heavy exchange of fire and seized arms and ammunition. “They wanted to hit gas pipelines in the area,” the sources said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Jamhoori Watan Party refuted the official claim about the killings and the surrendering of Bugti tribesmen, calling it false and baseless.

However, he said that many innocent women, children and elderly men had been killed in bombings in Kohlu area and that security forces had taken away nine Marri tribesmen.

He said that earlier the Dera Bugti DCO had claimed that all camps in Dera Bugti district had been destroyed and peace had been restored, but on Sunday he claimed destroying seven more camps.

He described the claims as a mere propaganda aimed at deceiving people.
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