01/11/2012 03:20 pm ET Updated Mar 12, 2012

Pakistan Soldiers Killed By Suspected Baluchistan Militants

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QUETTA, Pakistan, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Suspected Baluch separatist militants ambushed a convoy of paramilitary troops in the Turbat area of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province on Wednesday, killing 14 soldiers, security officials said.

"The attackers first fired rocket-propelled grenades at the vehicles and then opened fire on them," one security official told Reuters.

Baluchistan is Pakistan's biggest but poorest province, where Baluch separatists are fighting a protracted insurgency to demand more autonomy and control over the natural resources of their impoverished region.

Much of the violence in the past has been blamed on separatist militants. Pro-Taliban militants are also active in the province, which shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran.

Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in its war on Islamist militancy, has seen a wave of violence in recent years, most of it in the northwest where troops are battling militants. (Reporting by Gul Yusufzai; Writing by Qasim Nauman; Editing by Peter Graff)