Police arrested 450 rioters who rampaged through the city of Quetta yesterday in defiance of a curfew to protest the Pakistani military's overnight killing of a prominent rebel tribal chief, a top police official said.
Rioting in different parts of the Baluchistan provincial capital flared for a second straight day, with angry mobs burning shops, banks and police vehicles in response to Saturday's killing of the fugitive ethnic-Baluch leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti.
Government forces killed the silver-bearded Bugti, 79, and at least 24 of his supporters during a raid on his cave hideout in the mountainous Kohlu area, about 220km east of Quetta. Bugti went into hiding late last year after an attempt was made on the Pakistani president's life.
Quetta police chief Suleman Sayed said that 450 people were arrested yesterday in Quetta as security forces tried to crack down on the violence spreading through the city, which was placed under a round-the-clock curfew.
"All forces have been put on alert," Information Minister Mohammed Ali Durrani told the privately run Geo TV.
Bugti's son-in-law, Shahid Bugti, a senator in Pakistan's parliament, denounced the killing of the popular tribal chief and demanded the government return his body so his family could bury him.
"This is a very tragic affair for the whole family, the tribe and the people of the whole region," Shahid Bugti said from his father-in-law's family house in Quetta. "We consider him a martyr. He led a very graceful life and he had a graceful death, going out while fighting for his people's rights."
Baluchistan has been wracked by decades of low-level conflict, which has often flared into large-scale clashes, as ethnic-Baluch tribespeople led by Bugti pressed the government for an increased share of the wealth gained from natural resources extracted from the province, including gas, oil and coal.
Violence yesterday also spread to throughout Baluchistan and to the southern port of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and capital of neighboring Sindh Province, where large numbers of Baluch people pelted cars with stones and set tires alight, police said. Extra numbers of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed to Karachi's streets.
Security forces attacked Bugti and up to 80 of his supporters in a cave hide-out following an intercept of a satellite phone call in Kohlu district, said a top security official, who declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the topic.