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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 17:03 GMT
'Terrorists' killed journalists
By Paul Anderson
BBC News, Islamabad

The Pakistani government has condemned the fatal shooting of two journalists in the troubled tribal agency of South Waziristan on the Afghan border.

The two men were killed in a hail of bullets fired on their vehicle by unknown gunmen on Monday.

They were returning from the signing ceremony of a peace deal between tribal militants and the government.

No group has said it carried out the attack, which Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao called an act of terrorism.

Journalists in the tribal areas have shown their courage and determination to carry out their work under pressure from both armed militants and the authorities
Reporters without Borders

He said it was designed to sabotage the newly-signed peace deal between the government and tribal extremists.

Pakistani security forces have been hunting foreign militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Taleban and their tribal allies for the past year. They have moved militarily on some and signed amnesties with others.

The deal on Monday was particularly significant because in army parlance it neutralised Baitullah Mehsud, a tribal leader most fiercely resisting the military.

Targeted attacks

The journalists were returning to the main town of Wana in South Waziristan to file their reports on the signing ceremony. Gunmen overtook their van and sprayed it with bullets.

Soldiers in Waziristan
The army has been clamping down on militants in the region

The two men, Mir Nawab, who worked for Associated Press Television News, and Allah Noor, who worked for a local television station, were killed instantly. Two other journalists were injured. A local BBC reporter travelling with them escaped injury.

The incident falls in the recently emerging pattern of targeted killings.

Over the past few weeks several tribal leaders have been shot dead, it appears for collaborating with the military.

The army says its operation to rid South Waziristan of militants is all but over, but clearly some rebels are determined to thwart their efforts.

The agency and the one to the north are considered to be possible hiding places for Osama Bin Laden and his aides, but army commanders say they see no trace of al-Qaeda's leader.

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