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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 17:49 GMT
Gunman shot dead before bus siege
Police in the eastern Pakistani city of Faisalabad have shot dead one of 30 gunmen who seized a passenger bus, officials say.

Two other gunmen were wounded in the shoot-out on the main road to Sargodha. The gang then held passengers hostage for two hours before freeing them.

The district mayor told the BBC the gunmen were dressed in orange and led by a man claiming to be the messiah.

The group surrendered after police surrounded them.

No beards

Mayor Rana Zahid Tausif said the armed men had been travelling in a pick-up truck and two cars towards Sargodha, firing shots in the air.

Police followed them and opened fire at the group, he said.

The gunmen then drove onto a nearby motorway, where they hijacked the passenger bus and demanded talks with President Pervez Musharraf.

The men's identity is not known, and it is not clear what they wanted to discuss with the president.

Police say the men are not obviously religious and do not have beards.

Muslims believe Imam Mehdi, or the messiah, will appear as the world nears its end.

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