WANA, March 22: A pro-government cleric was killed by gunmen in the Laddah subdivision of the South Waziristan Agency on Wednesday and a telephone exchange was blown up in the Shakai area. Witnesses told Dawn that the car of the pro-government cleric, Maulana Sibghatullah, was ambushed at Laddah, about 70 km south of here. The attackers, who were masked, killed Maulana Sibghatullah and took away with them three other people who were in the car.

It may be mentioned that the cleric had been associated with the Taliban in the past. However, during the unrest in the agency he dissociated himself from the group and entered into an agreement with the government.

The telephone exchange at Shakai, 25 km north of here, was blown up at around midnight. As a result, Shakai’s telephone link with the rest of the country was cut off.

Officials said that the explosive device planted by militants had damaged the exchange building, line cable, power antenna and transformer. No one was injured in the blast.

The officials said that more than 300 telephones had gone dead and it would take a few days to repair the exchange.

ONLINE ADDS: The telephone exchange with 200 lines was completed last year.

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