Gunbattle near Pakistan airbases kills four

At least four gunmen were killed and six police wounded following two separate shootouts near military airbases in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, officials said.

The first incident occurred when gunmen in a car opened fire on police near Samungli airbase, which is used by the Pakistan Air Force, in Quetta -- the capital of insurgency-hit Baluchistan province.

The ensuing fighting left two gunmen dead and two police officers injured, Quetta city's police chief Abdul Razzaq Cheema told AFP.

"Police tried to stop their car but they opened fire on them," Cheema said.

"Police returned fire and killed two gunmen, the other gunmen managed to flee."

Within an hour, a second shootout began near the Khalid military airbase, some 12 kilometres from the site of first incident, killing two more gunmen and wounding four police, Cheema said.

Cheema added police defused four bombs near the outer wall of the military airbase.

"An exchange of fire in going on near the Khalid airbase," Cheema said, referring to second attack on the military airbase.

Provincial home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani confirmed the incidents, but told AFP it was to early to confirm the two incidents were targeting the airbases.

"It is premature to say that," Durrani said.

A senior military official told AFP that the airbases were safe. It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack.

Impoverished Baluchistan is wracked by an insurgency waged by ethnic Baluch tribes seeking greater autonomy from the federal government and a greater share of profits from the region's wealth of oil and gas resources.

The region has also been hit by attacks blamed on Taliban militants.

mak-sjd/lto