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Nine Killed in Pakistan Ambush

  • VOA News

Pakistani officials say unidentified gunmen in Baluchistan province have attacked a van carrying government troops, killing nine soldiers and police officers.

Authorities say at least four other soldiers were wounded in the ambush in the provincial capital, Quetta, just before midnight Thursday.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place hours after a visit to the city by US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Richard Boucher.

Boucher has already met with Pakistan's foreign minister and opposition leaders during his trip. He is scheduled to hold talks with President Pervez Musharraf in the coming days.

Boucher's trip has focused on bilateral cooperation as well as pressing officials to hold free and fair elections, scheduled to take place later this year.

The top official in Baluchistan told Boucher Thursday that al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and Taleban leader Mullah Omar are not hiding in the province.

Pakistan -- a key US ally in fighting terrorism -- has been criticized by Afghan and US officials for harboring extremists who carry out deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies the charge and says it has shown its commitment to fighting terrorism by deploying some 80-thousand troops along the Afghan border.

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