Local police and security officials confirmed the attack, claimed by the Baloch Republican Army, a separatist group. — Photo by AFP

QUETTA: Militants blew up a gas pipeline in Pakistan's insurgency-hit southwestern province of Balochistan early Thursday, cutting supplies to several areas in cold weather, officials said.

The pre-dawn blast damaged the main pipe bringing gas from Jaffarabad district to the provincial capital Quetta and five other districts, Sui Southern Gas Company spokesman Inayatullah Ismail told AFP.

“The gas supply to thousands of consumers has been suspended,” he said, adding that it could take two days to repair the pipeline.

Local police and security officials confirmed the attack, claimed by the Baloch Republican Army, a separatist group.

Impoverished Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has been wracked by an insurgency waged by ethnic Baloch tribes seeking more political rights and a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources.

“We carried out the attack,” Sarbaz Baloch, a spokesman for the group told the local media.

“It is in retaliation for extrajudicial killings of our youth by the intelligence agencies,” he said.

Hundreds of people have died in violence ripping through the province since the insurgency flared in late 2004.

The region has also been hit by attacks blamed on Taliban militants, although sabotage of gas pipelines are a trademark of separatist militants.

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