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Hundreds of Pakistani Tribal Militants Surrender


Pakistani officials say hundreds of rebel tribesmen have surrendered to local authorities in the violence-hit southern province of Balochistan. Men allegedly were responsible for scores of attacks on gas fields and government security forces.

The southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan has been the scene of bloody clashes between government forces and tribesmen loyal to a renegade tribal leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Officials say hundreds of Bugti's supporters surrendered Saturday during a public ceremony near the tribal elder's hometown of Dera Bugti.

Government spokesman Abdul Razik Bugti says more than 600 militants, including at least three top rebel commanders, were among those taking advantage of the government's amnesty program.

He says in the past week more than 800 militants in all have surrendered and have promised to cooperate fully with the government.

Nawab Akbar Bugti remains on the loose, living in mountain hideouts, and continues to fight government forces.

Pakistani officials say Nawab Akbar Bugti and members of his private militia have attacked government outposts, gas pipelines and security forces.

The rebel commander and his supporters are demanding greater control over Balochistan's valuable local resources, which include sizable energy deposits.

Human rights groups say the government has responded with disproportionate force and charges it with human rights abuses throughout the region.

The violence, which erupted in 2005, has destabilized vast portions of the sparsely populated province, which shares a long border with Afghanistan and Iran.

Security analysts say Taleban and al Qaida insurgents cross in and out of Afghanistan on Balochistan's remote frontier.

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