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Ten killed in pro-Taliban militant attack in Pakistan

Other News Materials 25 August 2008 19:13 (UTC +04:00)

At least 10 people were killed on Monday as pro-Taliban militants attacked the family residence of a member of parliament in North-Western Frontier Province (NWFP), officials said, dpa reported.
Around 150 to 200 heavily armed insurgents surrounded the house of Waqar Ahmad Khan in the Kabal area of the restive Swat valley and killed his brother Iqbal Khan, two nephews and seven bodyguards, police said.
"They used rockets and bombs in the attacks," Swat police chief Tanveerul Hassan told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The insurgents took the women and children out and demolished the house with explosives. Waqar was not in the house when the attack took place.
A spokesman for radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who is leading an armed struggle for the enforcement of Taliban rule in Swat, accepted responsibility for the killings.
"This is our response to the mortar shelling by government forces in the area," he told journalists by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Waqar is a member of the provincial assembly in NWFP and belongs to the liberal and secular Awami National Party that leads the provincial government.
Party spokesman Zahid Khan condemned the militant raid. "This is an act which stands in absolute violation of Islamic as well as local Pakhtun traditions," he said.
A few hours after the attack the federal government in Islamabad banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the umbrella organization of several militant groups, including that of Fazlullah.
"TTP has been declared as a terrorist organization," said Rehman Malik, security adviser to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
According to Malik, the law enforcement agencies were directed to take action against those linked with the group, and various state-owned and private banks will freeze its accounts.
TTP, which was created in 2007, has accepted responsibility for dozens of suicide attacks, including the last week's twin bombings at a military-run arms and ammunition factory that killed more than 80 civilian employees and wounded about 100 others.
Baitullah Mehsud, who commands the organization from his stronghold in a tribal district of South Waziristan bordering Afghanistan, is accused of ordering the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto in a gun-and-bomb suicide attack on December 27, in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
But the left-wing party of the slain leader opened indirect peace talks with TTP through tribal mediators after it took over in March, and the provincial government in NWFP signed a peace accord with Fazlullah on May 21.
The move decreased the suicide bombings but created great concern in Washington and Pakistan's other Western allies, which pressured Islamabad to halt peace negotiations with the militants who are accused of launching cross-border attacks on US-led forces in Afghanistan.
The indecisiveness on the part of the government whether to go ahead with the peace talks or pull back and Taliban's impatience led to a deadlock, triggering another spate of attacks.
Fazlullah called off the peace talks in June and accused the government of delaying the implementation of the agreement, leading to the resumption of government military operations in the scenic valley.
Three other smaller organizations - Lashkar-e-Islam, Ansarul Islam and Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue - which are not affiliated with TTP but share its philosophy, were also banned. All the three groups are active in Khyber tribal district.
Some other Taliban groups which are not associated with any of the banned four organizations are deemed as pro-government Taliban, which focus solely on targeting NATO forces in Afghanistan.

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