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April 29, 2017

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Bomb kills religious leader in Pakistan: police

PESHAWAR, Pakistan--A roadside bomb killed a local religious leader in Pakistan's restive northwest along with two others Monday, officials said, in the latest attack since the army began an operation to clear out militants from their stronghold.

Faqir Jamshed, who was in his mid-50s, was considered a "saint" by his followers and belonged to the Sufi order of Islam, which is reviled by the Taliban and other militants.

He contested last year's general election as an independent candidate from the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan, which lies close to the lawless North Waziristan district where Pakistan's military has been fighting an offensive against the Taliban since mid-June.

Police said an improvised explosive device planted on the road exploded as Jamshed's car passed near the village of Maddi, just outside Dera Ismail Khan.

"Faqir Jamshed, his driver and guard were killed in the blast," district police chief Sadiq Baloch told AFP.

Another police official, Tikka Khan, confirmed the incident and the casualties.

Baloch said that Jamshed might have been targeted by Taliban militants for being a Sufi saint.

Pakistan began its military operation in the aftermath of a brazen attack on the country's busiest airport in Karachi which killed dozens and left a nascent peace process in tatters.

More than 500 militants and 27 soldiers have been killed in the assault so far, according to the military, though their death toll for insurgents cannot be independently confirmed.

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