Islamic students in Pakistan clash with suspected bandits: 7 killed

At least seven people died in gunbattles between Islamic seminary students and suspected robbers in northwestern Pakistan, an official said Thursday. The fighting erupted late Wednesday in Shawal, a village in the North Waziristan tribal region, an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

He said two students and five suspected bandits were killed in the shootout. It was not clear what sparked the fighting. Earlier this month, 23 people were reported killed in several days of clashes between hundreds of students from Islamic schools in North Waziristan's main town, Miran Shah, and suspected bandits. Those clashes broke out after students refused to pay money to robbers at a roadblock.

In a separate attack in neighboring South Waziristan, five gunmen opened fire late Wednesday inside a barber's shop in Wana, the regional center, killing the owner and two other people, said another intelligence official who also refused to be named.

He said one man was wounded and that the attackers fled in a car. No one claimed responsibility and a motive for the attack was not known, the official said.

However, he suspected Islamic militants because they had allegedly issued warnings to local barbers not to shave customers' beards. Radical Muslims consider shaving to be against Islam. Hundreds of Arab, Central Asian and Afghan Islamic militants, allegedly linked with al-Qaida, are believed to be operating in North and South Waziristan with the support of local sympathizers, reports the AP. I.L.

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