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Gunmen kill 7 coastguards in Pakistan: officials

At least seven coast guards were killed in southwestern Pakistan, as the sectarian violence across the country surges

AFP , Sunday 28 Jul 2013
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Gunmen attacked a coastguard checkpost in southwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing seven officials and wounding seven others, officials said.

The incident happened in the Suntsar area of Gwadar district, 1,420 kilometres (882 miles) southwest of Quetta, the capital of the oil and gas rich Baluchistan province that borders Iran and Afghanistan.

"Around 24 gunmen armed with rockets and heavy weapons, attacked the checkpost and killed seven coastguard officials," provincial home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told AFP.

He said at least seven coastguard officials were also injured in the early morning attack.

A local tribal police official Muhammad Ali confirmed the attack and casualties, and said the identity of the attackers was not immediately known.

A local senior administration official, Abdul Fateh Bhangar, said two other coastguard officials were reported missing after the incident.

Meanwhile, local volunteers deployed at a Shiite Muslim mosque in Hazara town in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, shot dead a suicide bomber on Saturday evening as he tried to approach the building, officials said.

"One of the volunteers hit the bomber's head with a brick while another opened fire on him, killing him on the spot," local senior police official, Fayyaz Sumbul, told AFP.

He said the bomber, who had strapped explosives around his body, could not explode himself because of timely action by volunteers.

He added that police reached the scene immediately and defused explosives from the bomber's body. Durrani also confirmed the incident.

Quetta is a flashpoint for surging sectarian violence between Pakistan's majority Sunni Muslims and minority Shiites, who account for around a fifth of the country's 180 million people.

The city saw the country's two bloodiest attacks so far this year.

A giant bomb planted in a water tanker being towed by a tractor killed 90 Shiite Hazaras in February, while another suicide bombing at a snooker club in January killed 92 others. Both were claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), an extremist sectarian outfit responsible for a string of attacks against the Shiite minority.

Baluchistan suffers from both Islamist militancy and a regional insurgency which began in 2004, with rebels demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources.

Elsewhere in the northwestern town of Tal that borders the restive North Waziristan tribal region, at least two paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers were killed and 25 others wounded in an attack on their checkpost on Saturday.

"Around 50 militants attacked an FC checkpost and exchanged fire with the soldiers for over two hours, which killed two FC soldiers and wounded 25 others," a local intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

Another intelligence official also confirmed the incident and said that the attack was repulsed after FC troops retaliated.
He added that 18 militants were killed in retaliatory fire by the FC .

The northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is on the frontline of a seven-year Taliban insurgency and abuts the semi-autonomous tribal belt, where US drone strikes target Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives.

Washington considers the tribal areas a major hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.
Tackling homegrown Islamist militancy is one of the major tasks for Pakistan's new government, which was sworn in last month after the elections.

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