Protests in Quetta after news of killing of Nawab Akbar Bughti and his two grandsons in Army operation.


ISLAMABAD: August 26, 2006. (Reuters) - "It is confirmed, Nawab Bugti has been killed in an operation," Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani told Reuters. Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao also said Bugti had been killed. A military spokesman said security forces had attacked a rebel cave complex and exchanged very heavy fire. During the battle one cave collapsed burying all those inside, including, it was presumed, Bugti, said military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan. His body had not been recovered, he said. Earlier, an Interior Ministry official who declined to be identified, said 21 members of the security forces and 37 rebels had been killed. Shoaib Nausherwani, Baluchistan`s interior minister, said the toll was about 50. "Details are sketchy. Initial reports suggest about 50 have been killed but it could be higher," Nausherwani told Reuters. Baluchistan is biggest but poorest province. It also contains natural gas reserves. Baluch separatists have long complained that the province does not get a fair share of the profits from its resources and have been agitating for autonomy for years. PROTESTS Dozens of people took to the streets of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, after news of death of Nawab Bughti. They burnt tyres and threw stones but there were no reports of major damage or casualties. Troops launched the operation three days ago and swooped on the rebels in helicopters, a security official said. Bugti, who was born in 1927, was a former chief minister of the thinly populated province of deserts and mountains. With a shock of white hair and a white handlebar moustache and beard, he was for years one of Pakistan`s most distinctive politicians. In the 1970s, the government launched a major offensive to suppress the militants.

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