Published January 13, 2015
Fresh riots broke out Monday in southwestern Pakistan where thousands observed a large-scale strike and lawmakers condemned the government over the weekend killing of one of the country's most prominent tribal chiefs in a military raid.
Saturday's killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, 79, has sparked unrest in southwestern Baluchistan province. On Sunday, riots in the capital Quetta left as least two people dead and a dozen wounded. Police made at least 450 arrests.
On Monday, five people were injured in clashes between protesters and police in the town of Pasni where several shops were set ablaze in the bazaar. Police fired tear gas sand gunshots into the air to disperse a mob, Pasni police officer Ahmed Ali Baluch said.
In Gawadar, a remote town on the Arabian Sea coast, nearly 1,000 protesters set a bank and two shops on fire, local police officer Mohammed Iqbal said.
Opposition ethnic-Baluch lawmakers denounced the government in a rowdy provincial assembly session in Quetta and vowed to avenge the killing of Bugti, arguably the most prominent ethnic-Baluch leader since Pakistan's 1947 founding.
"This is a major event in Baluch history. We didn't join this country in 1947 to have our tribal elders, political leaders and children killed," said opposition leader Kachkul Ali Baluch.
Police took three opposition lawmakers into custody immediately after they left the Baluchistan assembly building in Quetta, said Sen. Abdul Malik Baluch.
He spoke to The Associated Press by cell phone from a Quetta police station where he said he was being detained. He claimed his arrest followed an order from the army for authorities to round up Baluch nationalist leaders. Baluch also said that more than 600 supporters of ethnic political parties have been arrested across Baluchistan since Sunday.
There was no immediate official confirmation of the latest arrests. The cell phone of the regional army spokesman appeared to be turned off.
Bugti, an articulate champion of greater rights for Baluch tribespeople, died after troops attacked his cave in the Kohlu area, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) east of Quetta, officials said. The cave's roof collapsed, killing Bugti and several of his fighters.
Pakistani authorities have not yet returned Bugti's body to his family, the late leader's son, Talal, said. However, a funeral ceremony has been scheduled for Tuesday in a Quetta sports stadium, he said.
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch demanded an investigation be held into the raid that led to Bugti's death amid "allegations of the use of disproportionate force."
Baluchistan police chief Chaudhry Mohammed Yaqoob said one Bugti supporter and one policemen were shot dead in separate incidents during Quetta's large-scale rioting Sunday. At least a dozen others, including nine policemen engaged in a gunbattle with Bugti supporters, were hurt.
Bugti's political supporters called for Monday's strike and ordered a 15-day mourning period. Government officials have tried to restore calm in the fiercely independent province and urged dialogue to resolve the region's grievances.
"Nawab Akbar Bugti was a towering political personality of the province," said Abdul Rahim Kakar, head of the traders association in Quetta, a city of about 300,000 people. "We have decided to close shops to support this (strike) appeal."
Baluchistan, bordering Afghanistan and Iran, has seen decades of conflict as tribespeople led by Bugti pressed for a bigger share of wealth from the province's gas, oil and other resources.