13 killed as rival Sunni groups clash in Pakistan

March 3rd, 2008 - 11:05 pm ICT by admin  

Islamabad, March 3 (DPA) At least 13 people were killed and 15 injured Monday during heavy fighting between rival Sunni Islamic groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, officials said. The fight began when dozens of heavily armed militiamen from Lashkar Islami (the Army of Islam) tried to dismantle a local shrine in the Bara area of the Khyber Agency tribal district, about 25 km west of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) capital Peshawar.

Local villagers resisted the militiamen, leading to a heavy exchange of gunfire, a local official told DPA.

Lashkar Islami is led by radical cleric Mufti Munir Shakir, who follows the puritanical form of Sunni Islam. The leadership of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Taliban movement belongs to the same sect.

Pakistan’s tribal areas are safe havens for numerous armed Islamic groups, as well as Al Qaeda militants and Taliban fighters who have launched cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

However, the militants have turned inward and launch regular attacks against Pakistani security forces and political figures. More than 1,000 people have died in about 60 suicide attacks over the past 14 months.

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