Gunmen kill `peace broker` in Pakistan`s S Waziristan
Last Updated: Thursday, May 20, 2010, 13:18
Peshawar: Gunmen killed on Thursday a leading Islamic cleric who helped broker peace deals between the government and Taliban militants in Pakistan's northwestern South Waziristan region, an aide and officials said.

The cleric, Malik Mirajuddin, was gunned down in a pre-dawn attack in Tank, a volatile town bordering South Waziristan.

"Two men driving on a motorbike sprayed bullets on Maulana Mirajuddin as he was walking to his home after offering prayers in a nearby mosque," Niaz Mohammad Qureshi, an aide to Mirajuddin, said.

A police official in Tank said Mirajuddin sustained serious wounds and died on his way to hospital.

Neither Qureshi nor police official commented on who could be behind Mirajuddin's murder. No one claimed responsibility for the killing.

Militants have killed hundreds of tribal elders and government officials in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border over recent years. Many were killed on suspicion of spying.

Pakistan's Army launched a major offensive in the militant stronghold of South Waziristan last October, killing hundreds of insurgents and destroying their major bases.

Mirajuddin was a former member of Parliament and a senior member of a pro-Taliban Islamic group, Jamiat-e-ulema-e-Islam.

He was instrumental in a peace deal between the government and Taliban in 2005. He was also a senior member of a committee of tribal elders that brokered a ceasefire between the government and Baitullah Mehsud, then Pakistani Taliban chief, in 2007. Mehsud was killed in a missile strike by US drone aircraft in South Waziristan last year.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, May 20, 2010, 13:18

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