QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - A bomb ripped through a two-story hotel in Pakistan’s restive southwest on Sunday, killing at least 11 people and wounding nearly 20, police said.
No-one claimed responsibility for the attack in Dera Allah Yar, a town in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, although police said they suspected ethnic Baluch separatists.
“The bomb was planted inside the hotel and it exploded when a large number of people were sitting in a hall,” local police official Javed Gharsheen told Reuters. The town is around 300 km (185 miles) east of provincial capital Quetta.
Witnesses said the two-story building was destroyed. Rescue workers and police were removing the rubble to find any survivors.
Police said the death toll could rise as several people were believed to have trapped in the rubble.
Baluch militants have been waging a low-level insurgency for decades for more autonomy and control over the natural resources of their impoverished region.
The activists often target government installations, security forces, gas pipelines, railway tracks and electricity pylons.
They have intensified their campaign since the assassination of a tribal elder, Nawab Akbar Bugti, in a military operation in 2006 during the rule of military President Pervez Musharraf.
Human Rights Watch in June said rights violations in the region were getting worse as militants and security forces targeted civilians, while authorities appear unwilling to rein in lawlessness.
The government of President Asif Ali Zardari, who replaced Musharraf, has tried to pacify Baluch nationalists by announcing huge development schemes for the region, but this has failed to stop separatist violence.
Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Taliban are also active in the strategic region that borders Afghanistan and Iran, though officials say there is no evidence that they have links with Baluch militants.
Separately, Islamist militants fired rockets at a military camp in North Waziristan, another troubled region in the northwest of the country, killing three soldiers when they were preparing for celebrations to mark the 65th independence day of Pakistan. At least 16 soldiers were wounded in the attack.
Reporting by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Alex Richardson