Tue, Apr 24, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Security forces kill five in Pakistan during small protest

AGENCIES , PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN

Security forces opened fire on supporters of an Islamic cleric who tried to storm the house of a rival Islamist leader in a Pakistani tribal region yesterday, killing at least five people, officials said.

Shooting broke out as several hundred people protested the demolition of a cleric's headquarters in Bara, a tribal town west of Peshawar, said Pordil Khan, a local government official.

Some of the protesters, including a number of school students, had thrown stones at a post manned by members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps.

It was not known who fired the first shots, Khan said. Several other people were wounded in the brief exchange, he said.

Bara has been tense since authorities demolished on Friday a compound that was being used as a base by Mufti Munir Shakir, a cleric who has been calling for the implementation of Sharia or Islamic laws in the area.

More than 1,000 members of the hardline Lashkar-i-Islami, or Army of Islam organization, gathered in the town which borders Afghanistan, to demonstrate against the rival Ansar-ul-Islam, Companions of Islam, group, they said.

Some armed members of the mob then marched towards a nearby village to attack the house of Ansar-ul-Islam's leader, Pir Saifur Rehman, a security official said on condition of anonymity.

"In a bid to disperse the crowd, local tribal police and paramilitary units opened fire and five people were killed and 10 injured," the official said.

Lashkar spokesman Misri Khan said he knew of five people who had died on the spot and dozens of others who were wounded.

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