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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Taliban take control of famous shrine, several areas in Pakistan

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, April 12, IRNA -- Armed Taliban militants have taken control of a famous shrine and some areas in a mountainous region in Pakistan’s northwest, Taliban spokesman said Saturday.

Taliban of Swat withdrew from Buner district after talks with authorities but handed over the control of ‘Pir Baba’ shrine and some areas to local Taliban, spokesman for Taliban Muslim Khan said.

Hundreds of people from other parts of the country daily visit the shrine of Pir Syed Ali Turmizi, known as Pir Baba but Taliban banned the visitors, saying they were indulged in acts not allowed in Islam.

Pir Syed Ali Turmizi had arrived in Buner during the Mughal emperor Akbar from Central Asian few centuries ago.

Khan said that Taliban, who had entered Buner from Swat, were asked to quit the area and hand over the shrine control to local militants.

Taliban also occupied the house of the head of local peace committee Malik Fateh Khan, who has already left the area along with family members.

Chief of local Taliban said the shrine will be shut for the visitors but only prayers will be allowed in the mosque in the premises of the shrine.

A police officer confirmed Taliban control of the shrine and some areas and information minister in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Mian Iftikhar Hussain condemned the Taliban occupation of the shrine.

Hussain said that Taliban have violated a peace deal with the government, saying that the government can take action if they did not end the occupation.

Meanwhile suspected militants on Saturday shot dead a pro-government tribal elder Malik Munir, who was also the chief of local tribal ‘lashkar’ or army in the tribal region of Bajaur.

The people of Buner had in the past showed resistance against the Taliban and had also killed some militants last year. But after the peace deal in Swat, they moved to Buner, raising fear of another conflict. The timely intervention by the government and elders, Taliban from Swat have left the area but the local Taliban still control several areas.

End News / IRNA / News Code 430357

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