May 30, 2006

Pakistani tribal chief killed near Afghan border

TANK, Pakistan (Reuters) - Masked gunmen shot dead a
pro-government tribal elder and wounded two people in
Pakistan's trouble-plagued South Waziristan region on the
Afghan border, government officials said on Tuesday.

Islamist militant supporters of al Qaeda and Afghanistan's
Taliban have killed dozens of officials and pro-government
chiefs in Waziristan in recent years as the government tries to
impose order on an area long infested with militants.

Five gunmen ambushed Mehr Dil Khan as he was traveling in a
van to Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, killing him and
wounding two other passengers on Monday.

"It was a targeted killing as he was a government supporter
and a member of the region's council," said a government
official in Wana, who declined to be identified.

Many al Qaeda and Taliban militants fled to Pakistan's
semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border after they
were chased out of Afghanistan by U.S. and Afghan opposition
forces who overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

On Sunday, a pro-government tribal chief was shot dead in
Mir Ali town in North Waziristan where security forces are also
fighting al Qaeda militants and their Taliban allies.