Militants blow up gas pipeline in Pakistan

Tribal rebels blew up a gas pipeline in Pakistan's insurgency-hit southwestern province of Baluchistan early Thursday, cutting supplies to several areas in cold weather, officials said.

The pre-dawn blast damaged the main pipe bringing gas from Jafarabad district to the provincial capital Quetta and five other districts, Sui Southern Gas Company spokesman Inayatullah Ismail told AFP.

"The gas supply to thousands of consumers has been suspended," he said, adding that it could take two days to repair the pipeline.

Local police and security officials confirmed the attack, claimed by the Baluch Republican Army, a nationalist group.

Impoverished Baluchistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has been wracked by an insurgency waged by ethnic Baluch tribes seeking more political rights and a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources.

"We carried out the attack," Sarbaz Baluch, a spokesman for the rebel group told local media.

"It is in retaliation for extrajudicial killings on our youth by the intelligence agencies," he said.

Hundreds of people have died in violence ripping through the province since the insurgency flared in late 2004.

The region has also been hit by attacks blamed on Taliban militants, although sabotage of gas pipelines are a trademark of nationalist rebels.

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