Separatists Fire Rockets as Musharraf Visits Balochistan

Azhar Masood & Agencies
Publication Date: 
Thu, 2005-12-15 03:00

ISLAMABAD, 15 December 2005 — Suspected militants fired eight rockets at a paramilitary base on the outskirts of Kohlu Agency in Balochistan province as President Gen. Pervez Musharraf was addressing a public meeting in a nearby town.

“I am not scared of such cowardly acts. I will come here again and meet the people”, Musharraf said reacting to the rocket attack.

President Musharraf is on a tour of different provinces seeking consensus on crucial political issues including the Kalabagh Dam project.

No one was hurt in the attack on the Frontier Corps base, police said.

A man who identified himself as Mirak Baloch and said he was a spokesman for the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), telephoned a press club in Quetta, the provincial capital, and said his group was responsible for the attack and would launch more.

“We fired the rockets,” a journalist at the press club quoted Baloch as saying.

“We Balochs are being treated like slaves. We are at war with the general and we will continue such attacks,” he quoted the caller as saying, referring to Musharraf.

Kohlu police official Mohammad Qasim said the president was in the town addressing tribal leaders when the rockets were fired. Nationalists in the resource-rich but restless province demand more control over natural gas and minerals, which, they say, bring few benefits to its people. The BLA is seeking a separate state.

Militants often launch small attacks on gas, electricity and transport infrastructure in the province, as well as on security force posts but casualties are rare.

Musharraf has been visiting Balochistan since Tuesday to seek support for a controversial dam on the Indus River in the Punjab province. “Saboteurs and anti-development elements cannot deter the process of socio-economic progress,” the state-run APP news agency quoted Musharraf as telling the tribal leaders.

“We are not deterred ... and will continue to steer the country on the path of socio-economic development,” he said.

He later laid a foundation stone for a military garrison in the town. Many people in Balochistan and elsewhere oppose construction of the Kalabagh Dam, which they fear will disrupt water supplies downstream.

Speaking in Quetta on Tuesday, Musharraf called for support for the construction of dams which he said were necessary to support the country’s growth.

He said Pakistan would not be held hostage by “terrorists and extremists” trying to dictate their will by “petty” sabotage, newspapers reported.

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