The raids were in apparent retaliation for rockets fired at Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf in the Baluchi town of Kohlu earlier this month, one of a several assassination attempts against the U.S.-backed general since he seized power in a 1999 coup.

Balach Marri, a Provincial Member of Parliament for the Kohlu area, said he had reports that a number of innocent civilians had been killed in the raids. "The army has arrested hundreds of innocent people in the operation, which is still going on, and in which jet fighters and helicopter gunships are participating," he told the Associated Press news agency. Local residents say security forces carried out aerial attacks on targets in the Jindran, Tilli and Pir Mahmood areas of Kohlu district.

Bugti has appealed for journalists and human rights activists to come to the province to witness and document the atrocities allegedly carried out by Pakistan’s military government. Such visits can be facilitated by contacting Mr. Bugti via Mr. Salman Aftab, by emailing

"It is ironic that at the very time that the United States is facilitating the trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein for 'collective punishment' of civilians following an assassination attempt on him, President Bush is mute while a U.S. ally conducts similar atrocities," said Aftab. "For the United States to ever hope to have credibility in the Muslim world, it must follow a consistent human rights standard."

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