Taliban kill seven tribal elders in Bannu district
Thursday, 24 Sep, 2009
PESHAWAR: Taliban insurgents on Thursday shot dead seven pro-government tribal elders in a northwest Pakistan town troubled by militant violence, police said.
The victims of the Taliban ambush in Janikhel town included tribal chief Malik Sultan, who was active in raising a government-sponsored militia against militants in the area, local police chief Iqbal Marwat said.
'Taliban militants attacked the tribal elders who were on their way to a nearby village to mediate a dispute between local people,' Marwat told AFP.
'All seven, who were on foot, were killed on the spot while the militants fled,' he added. The attack happened in Bannu district.
Janikhel is close to the rugged tribal region of North Waziristan where Washington says Al-Qaeda and Taliban established bases after the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Residents said Sultan helped to raise the lashkar, or tribal army, after Taliban militants abducted scores of students and teachers in June as they were being bussed home from an army-run college for summer vacation.
The students were freed to tribal elders. The abduction was claimed by Pakistan's umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban whose then leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in August.
Saddled with a traditional standing army that lacks adequate equipment and counter-insurgency specialists, one of Pakistan's answers to counter militants has been to arm and support tribesmen to protect local communities.