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Authorities blow up pro-Taliban HQ in Bara

The hardline Lashkar-i-Islam group's office in Bara, the capital of Khyber district, was blown up.

world Updated: Apr 20, 2007 14:58 IST

Pakistani authorities blew up the headquarters of a pro-Taliban group in a remote tribal area after the extremists set up an Islamic court and a private jail, officials said on Friday.

They dynamited the hardline Lashkar-i-Islam (Army of Islam) group's office in Bara, the capital of Khyber district bordering Afghanistan, after the organisation refused to close it down, the officials said.

The same group was responsible in March for stoning then shooting to death a woman and two men who were accused of adultery.

"Authorities planted explosives in the building and blew it up Thursday night after the Lashkar failed to vacate the premises," tribal administration official Atta-ur-Rehman said.

He said that the group's commander, Mangal Bagh, had set up a Taliban-style court in the building to decide cases that locals referred to him, and kept a prison in the basement.

"We will not allow anyone to challenge the writ of the government or to run a parallel system of governance," he added.

Last year 25 people died in battles in Bara between supporters of mullahs who used illegal radio stations to preach rival versions of Islam.

Pakistan has been fighting so-called "Talibanisation" in its conservative tribal belt since thousands of militants fled Afghanistan in late 2001 after US-led forces toppled the hardline Islamic regime there.

But fears have mounted about the rising influence of Islamic extremists in the rest of the country after a radical mosque in Islamabad set up its own Sharia or Islamic court earlier this month.

The Red Mosque sparked a standoff with the government by threatening to launch suicide attacks and by issuing a fatwa against the tourism minister after she was photographed hugging a foreign paragliding instructor.

First Published: Apr 20, 2007 14:55 IST