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BANNU, Sept 24 Seven members of a local peace committee were killed and seven others injured when militants ambushed their vehicle in the Frontier Region Bannu on Thursday. Four lashkar men were killed in clashes which followed the ambush.

According to unconfirmed reports, six militants were also killed in an exchange of fire with the lashkar.

Local people said the members of the peace committee were going to Bannu from Janikhel when their vehicle came under attack near Khaisur.

Malik Sultan, Malik Meefullah, Eid Azar, Malik Suleman, Noor Azad, Raib Khan and Badshah Noor died on the spot. Seven people suffered bullet injuries. They were taken to the district headquarters hospital.

The militants also fired on tribesmen who rushed to the place to shift the bodies and the wounded to the hospital and killed two of them.

Local people have raised the lashkar to fight militants in the Frontier Region of Janikhel, adjacent to North Waziristan.

Security forces carried out an operation a few months ago, but militants have regrouped in the area.

Security personnel cordoned off the area and launched a search for the assailants.

Helicopter gunships were called in and local elders issued a shoot-at-sight order.

AFP adds Up to 16 people — seven pro-government elders, two allied tribal militiamen and seven Taliban militants — died in the Bannu violence.

“Taliban militants attacked the tribal elders who were on their way to a nearby village to mediate a dispute,” local police chief Iqbal Marwat said.

The victims included tribal chief Malik Sultan who was active in raising the government-sponsored militia, he added.

The militants fled with five of the dead tribesmen, but were pursued by security forces supported by the lashkar men who killed five Taliban militants and recovered the bodies, police said.

“Two tribal militia volunteers were also killed,” Mr Marwat said.

An intelligence official confirmed the same sequence of events, but said seven militants had been killed.

Residents said Malik Sultan helped to raise the lashkar after the Taliban abducted scores of students and teachers in June as they were being bussed home from an army-run college for the summer vacation.

The students were later freed.