Suspected tribal militants blow up Pakistan railway track

Suspected tribal militants blew up a stretch of railway track in southwestern Pakistan on Thursday, severing train traffic with the rest of country, officials said. The attack happened in the morning near the town of Mach, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, said Javed Mohammed, an official at Pakistan Railways. Nobody was injured.

"They used a powerful bomb to damage the railway track," he said. "Right now, all traffic between Baluchistan and the rest of the country is suspended, but engineers are trying to repair the track and restore traffic."

Two trains carrying 1,400 passengers were scheduled to pass the damaged stretch of track hours after the attack, but were halted in Quetta, Mohammed said. It was unclear when rail traffic would resume, he said.

About six trains, with about 4,000 passengers, pass through the stretch every day. The track links Baluchistan with Pakistan's three other provinces.

Authorities decided after the attack to limit train traffic to daylight hours in the province, based on intelligence that tribal militants may target trains at night, a police official in Quetta said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

Sparsely populated Baluchistan has been wracked by small-scale bombings and rocket attacks in recent years, most blamed on tribesmen demanding increased royalties for resources extracted from the province. They also oppose recent military moves to establish new garrisons, which the government says are needed to bolster security, reports the AP. I.L.