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Drone strike kills five militants in volatile northwest Pakistan Baluch rebels kill 2 soldiers

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, Aug 6, (Agencies): A US drone strike killed five militants in Pakistan’s volatile northwest on Wednesday, security officials and residents said, as the country’s security forces press ahead with an offensive in a Taleban stronghold near the Afghan border. Two missiles slammed into a house in a village in the Datta Khel area in the border region of North Waziristan, security officials said, injuring two militants, besides the five dead. The bodies of the five people killed were charred beyond recognition, one of the villagers told Reuters. Drone strikes in Pakistan resumed in June after a gap of six months, during which the Pakistani government pursued peace talks with the Taleban. Pakistan announced an anti-Taleban offensive in North Waziristan within days of the resumption. The United States had long urged Pakistan to crack down on the Taleban stronghold in remote, mountainous North Waziristan. The Taleban use the region to prepare bombs, hold kidnap victims, stage public executions, and as a launch pad for attacks on Afghan and NATO troops across the border. The military ordered the entire civilian population of North Waziristan to leave before launching the ground offensive but residents said most of the militants also moved out.

Many have probably gone into hiding in Afghanistan or elsewhere in Pakistan, including in thickly forested valleys further south. In another incident, at least two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers were killed and six others wounded on Tuesday by separatists in the restive southwestern Baluchistan province bordering Iran and Afghanistan, officials said.

The rebels opened fire at a post of the Baluchistan Constablery paramilitary force around 40 kms (24 miles) south of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. “The incident took place at around 6:00 in morning in Mastung region. We have received reports that two soldiers have been killed and six others are wounded,” Akbar Durrani, home secretary of the province, told AFP. “We have sent a party to the area to gather more details,” he said.

A local official in the area also confirmed the incident. Resource-rich Baluchistan is home to a long-running separatist conflict that was revived in 2004, with nationalists seeking to stop what they see as the exploitation of the region’s natural resources and alleged rights abuses. The idea of giving greater autonomy to the province, the size of Italy but with only nine million inhabitants, is highly sensitive in a country still scarred by the independence in 1971 of its eastern portion, now Bangladesh.

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