Militants kill 3 in raid on Pakistan elder's home

October 24, 2011 - 4:30 AM

KHAR, Pakistan (AP) — More than 30 militants armed with rockets and machine guns attacked a prominent pro-government tribal elder's house in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing three members of his family, a government official said.

The militants struck Malik Noor Mohammad's home in Minzare Cheena village in the Mohmand tribal area before dawn, said Jawed Khan, a local administrator. Two of Mohammad's sons and a daughter-in-law were killed in the attack, he said. Mohammad was at home but was not harmed.

Militants have frequently targeted Pakistanis who have sided with the government as a message to others not to oppose the insurgents.

The village is located only about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from the Afghan border. Officials suspect the militants came from Afghanistan, Khan said. The militants set fire to a girls' school near the village as they left, he said.

The Pakistani military has complained that NATO and Afghan forces have not done enough to stop militants using safe havens in Afghanistan to attack Pakistan — the reverse of long-standing complaints by Washington and Kabul that Pakistan has allowed insurgents who threaten Afghanistan to operate on its side of the border.

In a separate incident, militants attacked a group of paramilitary soldiers conducting a search operation in Pakistan's Khyber tribal area Thursday night, sparking fighting that killed three soldiers and 34 militants, said Farooq Khan, a senior government official in the area.,

The Pakistani military has recently carried out offensives against militants in several parts of the country's tribal region along the Afghan border, including in Mohmand and Khyber. The operations have targeted the Pakistani Taliban, which has declared war on the Pakistani state.

The group is allied with the Afghan Taliban, which is also present in Pakistan's tribal region, but the latter faction has focused its attacks on Afghan and foreign forces in Afghanistan and has not been targeted by the Pakistani government.

Despite the Pakistani military's operations, the government has struggled to tamp down violence in the tribal region and other parts of Pakistan.

A prominent Pakistani Taliban commander who was ousted from his stronghold in the northwest by the military in 2009 warned in a recent radio broadcast that he would return from Afghanistan to resume his fight against the government.

"Our only aim is to establish Sharia (Islam) law in our land," Maulana Fazlullah said in a radio broadcast Wednesday night that was heard by tribesmen near the Afghan border. "Military action cannot make jihad vanish."

Fazlullah led a faction of the Pakistani Taliban in the Swat Valley in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. He was known as "Mullah Radio" because he often broadcast his messages over the airwaves.

The Pakistani military launched an operation in Swat in the spring of 2009 and drove Fazlullah into neighboring Afghanistan. The military has complained that U.S. and Afghan forces have not done enough to oust him from his new stronghold in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province.

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Associated Press writer Riaz Khan contributed to this report from Peshawar, Pakistan.