Anti-Taliban leader shot dead in Pakistan

The bullet-riddled bodies of an anti-Taliban militia commander and three of his associates were dumped in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday, police said.

The bodies of Fahimud Din, 50, chief of a 1,500-strong vigilante force in Bazidkhel on the outskirts of Peshawar, and three of his associates were found in a Toyota Land Cruiser on the city's ring road.

"We found the bodies around 7:00 am (0200 GMT). Four of them had been shot at close range," senior police official Asif Iqbal told AFP.

The Taliban claimed responsibility.

"We killed Fahimud Din and his colleagues. They raised a militia against us and wanted to defeat us," Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesman for Pakistan's main Tehreek-e-Taliban faction, told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"Anybody who rises up against us will face the same fate," Ehsan added.

Police said Din survived at least three suicide bombings and several roadside bomb attacks blamed on the Taliban and warlord Mangal Bagh who leads the Lashkar-e-Islam militia in the adjoining Khyber tribal district.

On June 12, two of his bodyguards were killed in a suicide attack that targeted his vehicle. Din survived because he had not been in the car.

Pakistan is on the frontline of the US-led war on Al-Qaeda. Since July 2007, a Taliban-led insurgency has been fighting against the US-allied government.

In the last five years, attacks blamed on Islamist bombers have killed more than 5,000 people according to an AFP tally.

Pakistan says 35,000 of its people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

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