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Pakistani troops kill 10 militants in southwest

Pakistani paramilitary forces have killed more than 10 separatist rebels in the violence-stricken southwestern province of Baluchistan as part of a fresh operation to quell a long-running insurgency.

QUETTA, Pakistan: Pakistani paramilitary forces Sunday killed more than 10 separatist rebels in the violence-stricken southwestern province of Baluchistan as part of a fresh operation to quell a long-running insurgency, officials said.

The operation in Dera Bugti district's Gandyari town, 250 kilometres southeast of the capital Quetta, came just three days after troops killed 30 militants in the same area.

Officials said the town, close to the borders of Baluchistan, Sindh and Punjab provinces, was the hub of a separatist movement carrying out attacks on trains, bridges and security forces.

"We can confirm that 10 militants of the outlawed Baluchistan Republican Army (BRA) have been killed in an operation in Gandyari today," Manzoor Ahmed, a spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Baluchistan, said.

"The forces started operation against the BRA militants early in the morning after receiving information that they are hiding there," Ahmed said.

The death toll could not be independently verified.

Resource-rich Baluchistan is home to a long-running separatist conflict that was revived in 2004, with nationalists seeking to stop what they see as the exploitation of the region's natural resources and alleged rights abuses.

The idea of giving greater autonomy to the province, the size of Italy but with only nine million inhabitants, is highly sensitive in a country still scarred by the independence in 1971 of its eastern portion, now Bangladesh.

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