By Michael E. Sanchez
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
KHAR, Pakistan- Shahfur Khan, a key anti-Taliban tribal leader was assassinated Friday in a roadside bombing, the latest in a series of attacks against pro-government militias in the area of northwestern Pakistan.
Mr. Khan was returning to his home to receive guests after prayers marking the start of the Muslim festival of Eid al- Adha when the explosion occurred, which killed him and wounded three others, according to local officials Jamil Khan and Abdul Malik. Jamil Khan, a local administrator said “The tribal leader was killed on the spot and his colleagues were seriously wounded in the blast.”
After his predecessor was killed with at least 14 other people in a suicide bombing last year, Khan emerged as a militia leader in the Mamund area of the Bajur tribal region.
Violence has increased in Bajur and other northwestern tribal areas along the Afghan border since the army launched an anti-Taliban offensive in South Waziristan in mid-October. A military statement on Friday said that over Fifteen Taliban fighters were killed in operations over the previous day in South Waziristan. Pakistani troops took control of three significant militant strongholds in the Bara area of Khyber tribal region, where another 15 insurgents were killed.
Authorities also found the bullet-riddled body of another tribal elder, Ameer Saiyed who was seized from his home late Thursday in an attack that also left his son dead. Authorities found the father’s body Friday near his home in Wali Kor village, the official said.
The government has bolstered their military campaigns by assisting tribal leaders and supporting local militias to battle the Taliban.
These militias, also known as lashkars, have drawn comparisons with government-backed groups in Iraq known as Awakening Councils. These groups have been credited with beating back the insurgency there. The lashkars however, are less organized and the tribesman use their own aging weapons.
Traditionally, tribal elders have had massive influence in northwestern Pakistan but have increasingly been targeted by al-Qaida and Taliban fighters as they joined forces with the government.
For more information, please see:
Associated Press- Key Anti- Taliban Figure Assassinated in Pakistan– 27 November 2009
Time of the Internet- Insurgents Kill Two- Anti Taliban Elders– 27 November 2009
BBC News- Anti-Taliban Elder Killed in Pakistan – 27 November 2009