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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Pakistan hard-liners 'shot dead'
Pakistani frontier constables patrol at in Bara
Security forces opened fire to disperse crowds, officials say
At least six people have been killed after members of a hard-line Islamist group clashed with security forces in north-west Pakistan, officials say.

Shooting broke out in Bara in Khyber agency amid unrest over the demolition of the group's headquarters on Friday.

A spokesman for the Lashkar-e-Islami (Army of Islam) said dozens more had been hurt in the fighting.

The authorities blew up the group's headquarters after reports it had been used as a Taleban-style court.

Tensions

It is unclear how Monday's violence began or how many people were involved in the clash.

Map

The Associated Press news agency said Lashkar-e-Islami supporters had attacked a post of the paramilitary Frontier Corps. It spoke of hundreds of people protesting.

The AFP news agency said up to 1,000 Laskhar-e-Islami supporters took to the streets and tried to march on the house of a rival cleric.

A security official told the agency that local tribal police and paramilitary units opened fire to disperse the crowd.

Lashkar-e-Islami spokesman Misri Khan said five people had died on the spot and dozens of others had been wounded.

"The number of dead could go up," AFP quoted him as saying.

On Sunday, police fired tear gas to disperse Lashkar-i-Islami supporters who were protesting against the authorities' decision to blow up their headquarters.

The group was accused of stoning and shooting to death a woman and two men accused of adultery in March.

Trade

The Lashkar-e-Islami is led by Mangal Bagh, a former student of fundamentalist cleric Mufti Munir Shakir.

Mufti Shakir left the area after at least 25 people were killed in clashes last year between his supporters and followers of rival cleric, Mullah Pir Saifur Rehman.

Correspondents said Mufti Shakir had been calling for strict Islamic Shariah law to be implemented in the area.

He and his followers who set up the Lashkar-e-Islami are said to strongly oppose the secular Sufi interpretation of Islam espoused by Mullah Rehman.

Last year's violence between the two groups was largely to do with territorial control and enforcing the two clerics' conflicting Muslim beliefs, correspondents say.

Bara is on the main trade route between Pakistan and Afghanistan and is said to be a hub for smuggled goods on the border.


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