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Pro-Taliban cleric’s two key aides killed

world Updated: Jun 07, 2009 01:55 IST
Zeeshan Haider
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Two people were killed in a suicide attack on a police station in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Saturday, hours after two pro-Taliban clerics were killed in a shootout in the northwest, officials said.

Pakistan had been braced for attacks by militants since the army launched an offensive to flush out the Taliban from the northwestern Swat valley and nearby districts in late April.

At least 40 people, including 12 children, were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in Upper Dir district, near Swat, on Friday.

In the Islamabad attack, the bomber scaled the rear wall of the offices of a police emergency response unit and jumped into the compound, but police opened fire on him before he could reach the main building, senior police office Bin Yameen said.

"He was trying to target the main building but our men foiled his attempt and one of our men laid down his life," he told reporters, adding that four policemen were wounded.

Waseem Khawaja, a spokesman for the capital's main government hospital, said they had also received a body of a civilian victim.

Pakistani officials have warned of attacks by militants to avenge the Swat offensive and Interior Minister Rehman Malik said police had arrested eight suicide bombers and their handlers in Islamabad and neighbouring Rawalpindi in recent days.

Security has been tightened in Islamabad and cars have been thoroughly checked by police on main roads and entry points to the capital in recent days.

Earlier on Saturday two pro-Taliban clerics, arrested by security forces on Thursday, were killed in an ambush when they were being transported to the main northwestern city of Peshawar in a military convoy.

Militants first hit the convoy with a roadside bomb, then opened fire with assault rifles, triggering a shootout near the town of Mardan on the main road leading to Swat.

"Both Amir Izzat Khan and Mohammad Alam were killed in this clash," military spokesman Athar Abbas told a news conference, referring to the clerics. One soldier was killed and five were wounded in the fight.