Pakistan Arrests Balochistan’s Top Nationalist Leader

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A top Baloch nationalist leader and about 40 of his supporters were arrested in the restive Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan on Wednesday after a large cache of arms was allegedly found hidden in his motorcade.

Jamhoori Watan Party leader Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti was held at Buleli check post by the Frontier Corps while he was returning from Chaman, a town on the border with Afghanistan, officials said.

Security personnel stopped Bugti's 12-vehicle motorcade for checking at the post. He was arrested with his supporters when weapons were allegedly found in some of the vehicles.

Footage on television showed Bugti being bundled into a car by security personnel and driven away.

Officials claimed they had found 43 Kalashnikovs, two 14.5mm anti-aircraft guns, two grenades launchers, small machine guns and 50,000 rounds of ammunition of different calibres in the motorcade.

They also claimed the vehicles in the motorcade were not registered.

Bugti, the grandson of Baloch leader Nawab Mohammed Akbar Khan Bugti who was killed in a military operation in 2006, alleged that he had been framed by the security forces.

"There was no arms cache in the vehicles and there were only some weapons carried by my guards," he told the media.

He said he would take up the issue of his harassment with countries like the US.

Maj Gen Obaidullah Khan of the Frontier Corps said Bugti and his followers had no permission to carry the weapons.

Bugti tried to escape from the check post but was captured by security forces and taken to a camp, he said.

Balochistan police chief Malik Muhammad Iqbal said a joint probe would be conducted into the incident by police, Frontier Corps and intelligence agencies, including the ISI and Military Intelligence.

Bugti had earlier announced that he would lead a march from Kashmore in Sindh to Dera Bugti in Balochistan next month to press authorities to facilitate the return of displaced members of the Bugti tribe.

He had alleged that over 100,000 people of the Bugti tribe had migrated to Nasirabad and Jaffarabad districts during the military operation that resulted in the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in 2006.

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