A paramilitary soldier looks at the fire flaring up from the main gas pipeline after a bomb blast by suspected militants at Dera Murad Jamali, February 8, 2011. — Photo by AFP

QUETTA: Militants on Thursday blew up the largest gas pipeline in southwestern Pakistan for a second time this week, again leaving tens of thousands of consumers without gas, officials said.

“It was the major pipeline. Militants dynamited it overnight only a few hours after the authorities repaired it,” senior administration official Anwar Durrani told AFP in Balochistan province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan.

The pipeline, which links the insurgency-hit province of Balochistan to gas reserves at Sui, was blown up on Tuesday and had been down until repair work was completed late Wednesday, officials said.

Enayatullah Ismail, spokesman for the Sui Southern Gas Company, confirmed the fresh attack but said it would take another two days to restore supplies to 200,000 consumers in the province.

“We are waiting for security clearance (before repair work can begin),” he told AFP.

The Baloch Republican Army militant group claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Ethnic Baloch tribes are fighting for more political rights and a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources.

Hundreds of people have died in violence ripping through the province since the insurgency flared in late 2004. Despite having some of the lowest living standards in Pakistan, the region has the richest supply of natural resources.

Although sabotage of gas pipelines are a trademark of tribal militants, the region also suffers from attacks blamed on Taliban militants.

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