QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) -Suspected rebels blew up a gas pipeline and electricity pylons in the gas-rich Pakistani province of Baluchistan as supporters of a rebel leader killed at the weekend prepared to hold prayers for him.
Nationalist rebels have waged a low-key insurgency for autonomy and a greater share of profits from Baluchistan’s resources for decades.
The Monday night attacks appeared to be the first by the rebels since veteran Baluch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in a government assault on his cave hideout in remote hills on Saturday.
The attackers used high explosives to blow up the pipeline and power pylons outside the city of Qalat, cutting its gas and power supplies.
“These were strong explosions. A 12-foot (3.6-meter) long piece of the pipeline was blown away,” said a police officer in the city.
Repair work on the gas and electricity lines had started, said the officer, who declined to be identified.
Violent protest have swept parts of Baluchistan since Bugti was killed but there were no reports of trouble on Tuesday morning.
Protesters have torched government offices, vehicles and homes and shops of people from outside the province. A settler from Punjab province was killed on Monday.
In the provincial capital, Quetta, unidentified attackers threw a grenade into the home of settlers from Punjab on Monday evening, seriously wounding a man, police said.
Bugti was killed in an air and ground assault by security forces.
Government officials said security forces had not targeted Bugti but he was killed when explosives went off during heavy fighting in a cave, which then collapsed.
But political analysts and opposition politicians dismissed the government explanation and said his killing appeared to have been intentional.
Opposition politicians, speaking in parliament in the capital, Islamabad, on Monday termed his killing “extra-judicial murder.”
Bugti’s body has yet to be recovered. The government says rubble in the cave is slowly being cleared.
His supporters said they would hold prayers for him in Quetta later on Tuesday.
Opposition politicians in Islamabad said they, too, would hold prayers for Bugti, after a debate of no-confidence in Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
The no-confidence debate was scheduled before Bugti’s death but his killing is expected to be discussed in the assembly.