Bomb kills 2 Pakistan soldiers in quake-hit region
By ABDUL SATTAR
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) -- A roadside bomb killed two soldiers doing relief work Wednesday in a remote region of Pakistan where a major earthquake killed at least 376 people last week, and gunmen shot at a military post distributing aid, military officials said.
The incidents in the southwestern Baluchistan province highlight the difficulty and danger involved in providing relief supplies to an area where separatists have been battling the army for years.
In the first attack, the bomb blast hit the soldiers' vehicle near Mashkay, a village in the province's southwest, the officials said. Their unit had had been dispatched to the disaster zone after the magnitude 7.7 earthquake rocked the province on September 24. The bombing also wounded three other soldiers.
In the second incident, Pakistani military officials said militants fired at a checkpoint established as part of relief efforts. No one was hurt in that attack.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
No one has claimed responsibility for either attack but suspicion fell on separatists who have been battling the Pakistani military for years and have claimed responsibility for similar attacks in recent days.
The military has been ferrying aid into the region by helicopter and evacuating the injured, but their increased presence in a particularly contested area at the earthquake's epicenter has led to renewed clashes.
Awaran district where the quake was centered has been a stronghold of the separatists. Even among Baluchistan residents who aren't part of the armed conflict, there is strong resentment against the central government, which many residents contend exploits the southwestern province's oil, natural gas and mineral deposits.
On Saturday, gunmen killed four Pakistani troops carrying rations for earthquake victims.
Last week, militants fired on two helicopters, including one carrying top government officials surveying the damage. No one was wounded in the incidents.
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