Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 11:29 UK

Pakistan elder killed by gunmen


A key pro-government tribal elder has been shot dead along with two of his guards in Pakistan's tribal region of Khyber, officials say.

They say that Malik Gali Khan was travelling in the Jamrud area when he was attacked by gunmen.

The tribal leader was seriously wounded and died on his way to the hospital.

As news of his death spread, incensed local tribesmen closed down the markets and also the Pakistan-Afghanistan highway through Torkham.

Malik Gali Khan was known for his support for the government in an area which is a vital supply route for Nato forces.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says that he was killed in an area which has seen a number of recent attacks on militants by security forces, as well as the arrest of high profile al-Qaeda members.

There were at least two other attempts on Mr Khan's life prior to his murder. His family says he had recently received a letter from local Taliban threatening to kill him.


Meanwhile Pakistan's Interior Minister Rahman Malik has told the BBC Urdu service that the Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah has been seriously wounded in an attack.

A Pakistani soldier stands with his heavy machine gun on a hill of the Biha valley in upper Swat on June 20, 2009
Pakistan's army says it has inflicted heavy casualties on militants

But our correspondent says that it is impossible to get independent verification of Mr Malik's claims.

The interior minister also dismissed the announcement made on Tuesday by a wing of the Taliban based in the tribal area bordering Afghanistan that they have scrapped a peace deal with the government.

The group led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur in North Waziristan withdrew from the deal as the army stepped up its offensive against the Taliban in the north-west.

Mr Malik said that their announcement was "nothing new" and that militants were all allied to each other in any case.

The army says that 32 people have been killed in recent fighting in Swat and Waziristan, but these claims also cannot be confirmed.

Military officials also say that the militants killed 18 men on their own side after they were wounded in an aerial bombardment and could not be evacuated.

The full-scale operation against the Pakistan Taliban leadership in their main stronghold in the Afghan border region of South Waziristan has yet to begin, says our world affairs correspondent, Mike Wooldridge.

One issue cited by the army as they prepare the ground is that they want to avoid provoking a wider tribal uprising.

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