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Amnesty seeks probe into Pak Baluchistan violence

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 21:59

Islamabad: Rights group Amnesty
International Tuesday called on Pakistan to investigate the
alleged torture and killing of more than 40 political leaders
and activists in the insurgency-torn province of Baluchistan.

Amnesty said the cases have occurred in the last four
months against a backdrop of increasing political unrest and
Pakistani military activities in the southwestern province
which borders Iran and Afghanistan.

Violence has surged this year in Baluchistan and human
rights activists have raised concerns about an increase in
targeted killings in the province.

"The Pakistani government must act immediately to
provide justice for the growing list of atrocities in
Baluchistan," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International`s Asia
Pacific director.

"Baluch political leaders and activists are clearly
being targeted and the government must do much more to end
this alarming trend."

Amnesty warned that bullet-ridden bodies of those who
have been abducted, many showing signs of torture, are
increasingly being found across Baluchistan whereas previously
bodies of the missing were rarely recovered.

Victims` relatives and activists often hold Pakistan`s
security forces and intelligence agencies responsible.

Amnesty said a previously unknown group, Sipah-e
Shuhada-e Baluchistan, has also claimed responsibility for
some of the killings.

"The Pakistani government must show that it can and
will investigate the Pakistani military and Frontier Corps, as
well as intelligence agencies, who are widely accused of
playing a role in these incidents," said Zarifi.

Hundreds of people have died since Baluch rebels rose
up in 2004 demanding political autonomy and a greater share of
profits from the region`s wealth of natural oil, gas and
mineral resources.

Amnesty warned that the rise in disappearances and
bodies being dumped has aggravated political tensions and led
to reprisal killings by Baluch groups.

On August 14, gunmen shot dead at least 16 people in
Baluchistan. Amnesty said 17 people -- all from Punjab
province -- were killed and that the Baluchistan Liberation
Army claimed responsibility.

In response to the report, Pakistan said it was
working to implement a package of political and economic
reforms, which was unveiled last November in a bid to grant
the province more independence and boost wealth creation.

"The democratic government is trying its best to
protect human rights as enshrined in the constitution," said
foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 21:59

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