Bombers blow themselves up on resistance from Pakistani localsSeptember 18th, 2008 - 9:52 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, Sep 18 (DPA) Two of three suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up Thursday after residents in Pakistan’s restive North West Frontier Province tried to apprehend them, officials said.Three militants stopped briefly in the village of Maskeray in the Dir district, were spotted by residents and challenged, Mayor Bakht Sher said in a telephone interview. The two sides exchanged fire and the two militants blew themselves up, he said.
The third militant fled into a forest near the village but was later caught by the locals and beaten severely, Sher said.
“He told the locals that he was by profession a veterinary doctor and an Afghan national who had come to fight in Swat,” the mayor said.
The three men were travelling from the tribal district of Bajaur to the Swat Valley, which has seen intense fighting between security forces and pro-Taliban militants for almost one year.
The fighters in the valley - where the followers of a radical cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, have launched an armed campaign to enforce Taliban rule in the area - also get support from Taliban militants travelling through Dir from tribal regions.
Hundreds of people, including Taliban fighters and security personnel, have died in the yearlong fighting.
Several parts of the North West Frontier Province - particularly those adjacent to the lawless tribal belt, which are known sanctuaries of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters - are suffering from rising Islamic militancy.
The Taliban have blown up hundreds of girls schools, music and barber shops and forced women to wear the veil in some areas, in addition to carrying out dozens of suicide attacks.
But the locals in Dir have so far resisted the spread of Taliban influence by organising small armed groups called peace committees to guard their villages against militants.
Some media reports suggested that the three militants Thursday had tried to take hostage about 300 children in a primary school near which they stopped, but Sher denied that any such attempt was made.
“They never entered the school, and a very brief exchange of fire took place between them and the villagers near the outer wall of the school, after which they fled to the nearby forest, where two of them blew up,” he said
“Not a single bullet hit the school building,” he added.
“Thank God we heard the children screaming, and then almost every male in the village came out with a gun and forced the Taliban to flee,” said resident Ghulam Ghaous, 39, whose nine-year-old son was inside the school.