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Pakistan attacks kill anti-Taliban elders

world Updated: Aug 13, 2009 20:11 IST

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A suicide bombing and gun attack in northwest Pakistan on Thursday killed six people, including three prominent anti-Taliban tribal elders, officials said.

A bomber strapped with explosives and riding a motorbike killed Malik Khadeen, one of his relatives and two passers-by after ramming the tribesman's vehicle in South Waziristan, a local security official said.

Khadeen was a key anti-Taliban facilitator in Wana, the main town in the wild tribal region that is considered a stronghold of Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud, presumed killed in a US missile attack last week.

"Malik Khadeen was killed in this suicide attack with a relative. Two passers-by were also killed and three injured," the security official said adding that this was the third attack on the prominent leader.

An intelligence official confirmed the bomb attack in Wana, saying Khadeen's vehicle was badly damaged.

Khadeen was a prominent elder who organised tribal meetings and activities to counter the power of the Taliban, particularly Uzbek Taliban, in the area.

Separately two pro-government Pakistani militia leaders were killed and their bullet-ridden bodies recovered -- dumped in the tribal area Bajaur, which like south Waziristan also borders Afghanistan, local officials said.

"Both the tribal elders were shot dead by gunmen. We think Taliban are involved in the incident as they have no other enmity," Saad Ullah, a local government official told AFP.

Hundreds of people were killed in a six-month Pakistan operation against militants in Bajaur, where the military claimed in February to have "secured" the area.

Pakistan's semi-autonomous northwest tribal belt has become a stronghold for hundreds of extremists who fled Afghanistan after the US-led invasion toppled the hardline Taliban regime in neighbouring Afghanistan in late 2001.