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Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 13:10 UK

Militants kill Pakistani elders

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Pakistani elders killed in ambush

Seven pro-government tribal elders have been killed by the Taliban in north-west Pakistan, police say.

The victims of the Taliban ambush in the town of Janikhel included tribal chief Malik Sultan, who was active in raising a militia against militants.

Janikhel has often been troubled by militant violence and is close to the tribal region of North Waziristan where the Taliban is known to be active.

The area has been under periodic curfews by the army since June.

"Taliban militants attacked the tribal elders who were on their way to a nearby village to mediate in a dispute between local people," local police chief Iqbal Marwat told the AFP news agency.

"All seven, who were on foot, were killed on the spot while the militants fled," he added.

The attack happened in Bannu district.

Residents said that Malik Sultan was part of a government-sponsored initiative to form militias in the north-west to combat the Taliban.

Correspondents say the militias are seen as a way of offsetting the fact that the Pakistani army lacks adequate equipment and counter-insurgency specialists. They are also seen as a way of protecting villages and remote communities.

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