10/18/2006

BBC: Rebel killing raises stakes in Pakistan

Guest journalist Ahmed Rashid assesses what the killing of a rebel tribal leader in Balochistan province means for the Baloch rebel movement and for the Pakistani government.

In his death and the manner in which it was carried out, Sardar Akbar Bugti is likely to become a martyred hero for Baloch nationalism and nationalists elsewhere in Pakistan - rather than the anti-government renegade and reactionary tribesman Islamabad would like to portray him as.

Bugti, the Sardar or chief of more than 200,000 Bugti tribesmen, was killed along with more than 35 of his followers when the Pakistan Air Force bombed his hideout in the Bambore mountain range in the Marri tribal area.

Pakistani officials say that at least 16 soldiers including four officers were killed after they went in to mop up the remnants of the Baloch guerrilla group. A fierce battle ensued which led to their deaths.

Bugti, a 79-year-old invalid who could not walk due to arthritis, is reported to be buried in the rubble of the cave where he was hiding.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Rebel killing raises stakes in Pakistan

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