Gunmen kill 9 anti-Taliban volunteers in NW Pakistan

February 12, 2014 - 8:43:05 am

PESHAWAR: Militants stormed a house of anti-Taliban activists and shot dead nine men in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar early Wednesday, police said, as government and Taliban negotiators met for a second round of peace talks.

The attack by around two dozen fighters took place in the Mashukhel neighbourhood of Peshawar, close to the lawless Khyber tribal district bordering Afghanistan where Taliban and Islamist groups are active.

Taliban militants and other Islamist groups have been targeting locals who support the security forces or formed peace committees and vigilante groups against them.

"At least nine men were shot dead by militants who stormed into a house around 4.30am firing with automatic weapons and exploding hand grenades," senior police official Fazal-e-Wahid told AFP.

The attack came a day after 13 people were killed by a triple grenade attack on a Peshawar cinema which was showing pornography.

Earlier in the month a separate cinema in the city was also hit by grenades, killing four and wounding 31.

Wahid said the militant group involved in Wednesday's attack separated adult males of the family, shot them and later fled.

A man of the same family who served in the community police was killed in an armed attack some 18 months ago, Wahid added.

Najib-ur-Rehman, another senior police official, confirmed the incident and said that the assailants came from Khyber and had targeted the family because of their affiliations with a local peace committee.

Khyber straddles the NATO supply line into Afghanistan, used by US-led troops to evacuate military equipment as they withdraw by the end of this year.

Thousands fled fighting in Khyber district in the early months of last year, according to aid groups, though by June the army said it had taken control of all the key strategic heights.

The attack came as negotiators representing the Pakistani government and Taliban militants met for a second time as part of efforts to end the bloody seven-year rebellion.

After the meeting in Islamabad the chief negotiator for the Taliban, hardline cleric Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, said the two sides had proposed a ceasefire "to make the atmosphere for talks more conducive".

Pakistani troops have been fighting for years against homegrown insurgents in the tribal belt, which Washington considers the main hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan. (AFP)

 

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