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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Militants kill "U.S. spy" cleric in Pakistan

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Suspected pro-Taliban militants killed an Afghan cleric in Pakistan's North Waziristan border region after accusing him of being a U.S. spy, the latest such killing in the area, officials said on Sunday.

Dozens of people have been killed in the regions of North and South Waziristan after being accused of spying for the Americans since Pakistani security forces launched a hunt for Islamist militants there in late 2003.

Residents found the body of the cleric, Maulana Mohammad Hashim, early on Sunday in Razmak, 75 km (45 miles) south of Miranshah, North Waziristan's main town.

"He was shot in the head twice and a note was found near the body saying he was a U.S spy," said Zafar ali, the deputy administrator of Razmak.

The note said whoever spied for the United States would be killed.

The headless body of another cleric, Maulana Salahuddin, was found this month on a road linking North and South Waziristan. Residents said Salahuddin was a friend of Hashim.

Killings have been going on in North Waziristan despite a peace deal struck with militants in September to end violence there.

Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt has been a haven for Islamist militants for decades.

Many al Qaeda militants and their Taliban allies have taken refuge with sympathetic ethnic-Pashtun tribesmen since fleeing the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.
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