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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Militants occupy Pakistan shrine
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Islamic militants have occupied a shrine in a tribal district of Pakistan and named it after the Red Mosque in Islamabad, locals and officials say.

More than 70 pro-Taleban militants evicted local officials from the Haji Sahib Turangzai shrine near the Afghan border in the country's north-west.

The Red Mosque was the scene of a siege this month in which 100 people died.

Meanwhile, in the North Waziristan tribal area militants have killed at least seven people, officials say.

Masks

Eyewitnesses said a signboard reading Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) was put up outside the Haji Sahib Turangzai shrine, in the Lakaro area of Mohmand Agency, on Saturday night.

Smoke rises above the Red Mosque
More than 100 people died in the Red Mosque siege

A local journalist, Mukaram Khan Atif, who visited the shrine on Sunday, told the BBC's Urdu service that heavily armed militants wearing masks had taken up positions in the surrounding areas and were frisking everyone who entered the mosque or the shrine.

He said the militants' leader, who introduced himself as Omar Khalid, told him that a seminary for boys, named after Haji Sahib Turangzai, and another for girls, named Jamia Hafsa Umme Hassan, would soon be built on the premises.

The assistant political agent of Mohmand Agency, Syed Ahmad Jan, told the BBC Urdu service on Monday that Haji Sahib Turangzai's heirs had asked local elders to try to persuade the militants to leave the shrine.

He said the local administration was also in touch with elders from the Gurbaz tribe to resolve matters through a local jirga (council).

The authorities' decision to storm the Red Mosque in the capital, where armed Islamic militants had been barricaded, angered religious conservatives in Pakistan.

Militants vowed to create Red Mosques and Jamia Hafsa seminaries in every corner of the country.

Meanwhile, a military spokesman in Islamabad said three soldiers and four civilians had been killed in two attacks in North Waziristan.

"Three paramilitary soldiers were killed when militants attacked a check post near Miranshah town," Maj Gen Wahid Arshad said.

In the second incident, militants ambushed a military convoy and four civilians were killed when caught in the cross-fire, he said.

Wave of attacks

Pakistan has seen a massive increase in violence ever since Pakistani troops stormed the Red Mosque in early July.

Soldiers entered the mosque after its clerics and students waged an increasingly aggressive campaign to enforce strict Sharia law in Islamabad.

The mosque had become a centre of radical Islamic learning and housed several thousand male and female students in seminaries attached to it.

More than 100 people were killed in the siege, including 11 soldiers.

The attack on the mosque was the most prominent battle fought by security forces in Pakistan since President Musharraf vowed to dismantle the jihadi network in the country in the aftermath of the 11 September, 2001 attacks on the US.

About 200 people have been killed in a wave of militant attacks since the operation. On Friday, a suicide bomber killed at least 13 people near the Red Mosque in Islamabad.


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