15 Pakistanis killed on Independence Day

Suspicions of attack fall on Baluch separatists; Baluch militants fighting for more autonomy; rocket attack by Islamist militants kills 3 soldiers

Bomb, gun and rocket attacks killed 15 Pakistanis in flashpoints bordering Afghanistan on Sunday as the country celebrated Independence Day, officials said.

Eleven civilians were killed and 23 wounded when a bomb ripped through a roadside restaurant in the town of Dera Allah Yar, part of the restive southwestern province of Baluchistan, police said.

After most of those trapped under debris from a collapsed roof were recovered, district police chief Javed Gharshin told AFP that 11 people had been killed and 23 others wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) southeast of Quetta, the provincial capital, which came as Pakistan celebrated the 64th anniversary of independence from Britain.

Elsewhere in the province, gunmen on motorcycles shot dead a local journalist in the town of Khuzdar, police said.

"Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead journalist Munir Noor when he was returning to home after shopping at a nearby market," local police station chief Abdul Qadir Sheikh told AFP from the area, some 155 miles south of Quetta.

Noor was a correspondent of the private Online news agency.

Baluchistan has seen a recent surge in violence linked to a separatist insurgency, sectarian clashes and Taliban militants.

Local separatists rose up in 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources.

In Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt, at least three paramilitary soldiers were killed and 25 wounded when militants fired a rocket into their camp as they prepared for an Independence Day assembly.

Four rockets hit the camp in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district, where Pakistan is under huge US pressure to launch a major offensive against the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, an official told AFP.

"Three paramilitary soldiers were martyred and 25 others were wounded by rockets fired by militants," the senior security official said.

"The condition of five of the wounded soldiers was serious."

Local intelligence officials confirmed the attack and the death toll.

Pakistan carried out a sweeping offensive in 2009 in neighbouring South Waziristan targeting the country's main Taliban faction, but many of their commanders and foot soldiers are believed to have fled to North Waziristan.

Washington is pressing Islamabad to do more to crack down on Islamist militant outfits active in Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan.

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