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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 12:40 GMT
'Islamic students' in gun battle
At least seven people have been killed in what officials say was a battle between Islamic students and bandits in Pakistan's north-western tribal region.

Reports say five bandits and two students were killed in the village of Shawal in North Waziristan, along the border with Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, at least 15 people were killed in similar clashes.

North and South Waziristan have been at the centre of the hunt for Taleban and al-Qaeda militants.

Hundreds of militants and more than 250 Pakistani soldiers have died in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan in the past two years.

'Taleban-style' killings

The identities of those taking on the bandits is not clear. Some reports have describe them as Islamic students.

Others say they are members of the Taleban that governed neighbouring Afghanistan until toppled by the United States.

In the clashes earlier this month, the bodies of two bandits were hung from an electricity pylon near the main town of North Waziristan, Miranshah.

One was beheaded and his head stuck on top of a bamboo pole.

The clashes are said to have taken place after the suspected bandits tried to extort money at a roadblock.


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