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Anti-Taliban leaders attacked in Pakistan

Associated Press / November 16, 2009

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Militants staged a pair of attacks against anti-Taliban figures in northwestern Pakistan yesterday, killing one of the men as part of an escalating campaign to weaken the country’s resolve to fight Islamic extremism.

Suspected militants have killed more than 300 civilians and security personnel in Pakistan in the past month in retaliation for an army offensive launched in the tribal area of South Waziristan, where Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding.

The government has supplemented its military campaigns by helping tribal leaders and local government officials set up militias to battle the Taliban. The militias, known as lashkars, have been compared to Iraq’s Awakening Councils, which helped US forces turn the tide against Al Qaeda there.

As in Iraq, militants in Pakistan have targeted the leaders of such groups.

A group of militants opened fire on the house of an elder, Malik Sher Zaman, in the Bajur tribal region around midnight yesterday, killing him several months after he signed an agreement with the government to battle the Taliban, said Abdul Malik, a senior local official. The militants blew up part of his house in the Mamund area after the attack, he said.

Several hours later, more than a dozen militants opened fire on the house of an anti-Taliban mayor outside the main northwestern city of Peshawar, but security guards repelled the attack, killing three of the assailants, said Nabi Shah, a police official.