msnbc.com news services
updated 2/5/2006 10:46:12 AM ET 2006-02-05T15:46:12

A bomb ripped through a passenger bus Sunday in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 12 people and wounding at least 13, officials said.

The explosion, around 5:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET), occurred in the back of the bus in Kolpur, about 20 miles southeast of Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, local government administrator Abdur Rahman said. The bus was taking about 50 passengers from Quetta to the eastern city of Lahore, officials said.

Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao told state-run Pakistan Television that, according to initial reports, 12 people were killed and 13 injured.

“This is a guess, but possibly they may have stored it in a bag and placed it under a seat,” he told Reuters.

Time bomb suspected
Baluchistan police chief Chaudhry Mohammed Yaqoob said the blast was apparently caused by a time bomb. “A man may have come on the bus and left it there and it exploded later,” he said.

Sherpao said it was too early to say who was responsible.  Baluchistan has been troubled by a growing insurgency by tribesmen seeking greater autonomy and more benefits from the province’s natural gas resources, Pakistan’s main source.

Insurgent attacks
On Saturday militants fired more than 100 rockets into the town of Sui, killing two military guards and six civilians and damaging 16 houses, police said. Sui is near Pakistan’s main gas field and about 450 miles southwest of Islamabad.

The attack followed a similar rocket blitz on Friday and Saturday in the nearby town of Dera Bugti.

The area’s senior government administrator, Abdul Samad Lasi, said militants also blew up a section of gas pipeline and a water pipeline in Dera Bugti overnight, while a landmine blast on Sunday morning killed a civilian on Sunday morning in nearby Kohlu district.

Speaking earlier, Sherpao said security forces were currently limiting their activity to defensive action but warned that “this strategy can be changed for the protection of gas installations and local population.”

“Attacks on national installations cannot be tolerated,” he said.

The latest violence came after President Pervez Musharraf demanded on Friday that Baluchistan’s tribal leaders disband their “private militias.”

Military crackdown
The military launched a major crackdown on militants after a rocket attack on Dec. 14 during a visit by Musharraf to Kohlu.  The crackdown coincided with the announcement of plans to privatize two gas distribution firms in Baluchistan.

Baluchistan nationalists say hundreds of people have been killed.

Analysts say this could be an exaggeration, but the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has accused the government of “gross human rights violations” in Baluchistan.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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