Rebels kill anti-Taliban militia chief, eight others in Pakistan
Islamist militants killed an anti-Taliban militia chief and eight of his supporters at the weekend in Pakistan's restive Swat district, according to a media report on Monday.
Pir Samiullah, an influential elder leading a militia against pro-Taliban militants in Swat, was gunned down by insurgents loyal to radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah in Mandaldag area late Saturday, the Dawn newspaper said.
The rebels overran Mandaldag Saturday morning and forced most of the armed government supporters to retreat. They also set fire to more than 15 houses that belonged to local elders, including Samiullah, reported dpa.
Dawn said Samiullah and eight other militiamen were killed some time in the night as fierce gunfights raged in the area. The attackers also took 22 people hostage.
Samiullah had raised a Lashkar, or private militia, in Mandaldag earlier this year to aid the military in flushing the rebels out of Swat.
No insurgent was killed in the weekend clashes, a spokesman for the militants, Muslim Khan, told the newspaper. Khan said the invading rebels hunted house to house for Samiullah's men, and seized assault rifles and other arms left by the retreating group.
Clashes erupted in Mandaldag earlier this week when militiamen attacked a hideout of militants, killing at least three people.
In late October, a group of insurgents tried to kidnapped Samiullah but failed when scores of locals challenged them.
Swat was a favourite tourist resort until it became a was zone last year when Fazlullah supporters declared an armed struggle to enforce self-styled Islamic laws, prompting the government to send in thousands of troops to quell the rebellion.