KHAR, Pakistan (AP) – Suspected Taliban militants fatally shot a tribal elder Saturday in volatile northwestern Pakistan as he traveled to discuss anti-militancy efforts with government authorities, an official said.
The dead body of a man accused of spying for the U.S. also turned up in the Bajur tribal region.
Bajur was the focus of an intense six-month operation against militants starting last year, an offensive that was praised by American officials worried about insurgents using Pakistan to plan attacks across the border in Afghanistan.
Although the army declared it had been cleared earlier this year, trouble still flares in Bajur.
Tribal elder Malik Abdul Majeed was killed while riding in his car in the Damadola area of Bajur, said Abdul Maalik, a local government official.
Majeed’s cousin also was wounded in the attack.
As part of their strategy to gain control in pockets of Pakistan’s northwest, Taliban militants frequently attack tribal leaders considered to be pro-government. Many such tribal leaders have formed “peace committees” aimed at keeping insurgents out of their territory.
Majeed belonged to a tribal peace council in Bajur’s Mamund area, said Maalik, adding that the killing “is an act of terrorism.”
Militants also have slaughtered many individuals they suspect of helping out the government or the United States.
The latest body surfaced on the outskirts of Khar, Bajur’s main town.
Police official Muhammad Javed said a note attached to the corpse read: “He is an enemy of Islam. He is an American agent.”
Under pressure from the U.S., Pakistan has also been cracking down on insurgents in the northwestern Khyber tribal region, where militants have stepped up attacks on trucks carrying supplies to American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s paramilitary forces said Friday that they had killed 27 more militants, including two commanders, in Khyber. The statement from the Frontier Corps said the troops also destroyed two militant hide-outs in Friday’s operations.
It was not possible to independently confirm the statement. Access to Khyber is restricted.
Also Saturday, a Pakistani anti-terrorism court again adjourned pretrial proceedings in the case of seven suspects in the attack on the Indian city of Mumbai, a court official said. The case was adjourned until Oct. 10, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the proceedings are secret and the judge has issued a gag order on the parties involved.
Pakistan’s prosecution of the suspects is considered a key test of its willingness to bring justice to perpetrators of terrorism, but the court has repeatedly delayed formally charging the suspects and launching the trial.
The Mumbai siege last November left 166 people dead and ratcheted up tensions between Pakistan and longtime rival India.