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Member Of Anti-Militant Group Killed In Northwestern Pakistan

Javedullah Khan's funeral was offered in Swat on February 26
Javedullah Khan's funeral was offered in Swat on February 26

MINGORA, Pakistan -- A local leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and member of an anti-militant group has been gunned down in the country's restive northwest.

Javedullah Khan, who was appointed as the bureau chief of the daily Ausaf in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province's Swat district last month, is the 15th member of his family to be killed since 2008, according to a cousin.

"We are politicians. It is the state's responsibility to provide us security," the cousin, Mumtaz Khan, told RFE/RL on February 26.

FILE: Javedullah Khan
FILE: Javedullah Khan

Javedullah Khan, 36, was travelling in the town of Matta late the previous day when unidentified assailants opened fire on his car.

A police guard accompanying him was unhurt.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident, which local peace committee member Fatehullah Khan called a "targeted attack."

"We feel that insecurity is once again spreading in the area. The state should ensure our security" against such attacks, he told RFE/RL.

Local police official Ali Muhammad said many of Khan's relatives, including "a brother, uncles, and cousins were killed due to their involvement in anti-Taliban peace committees."

Tribal vigilante forces, known locally as peace committees, have been set up in northwestern Pakistan to defend villages against militants.

London-based Amnesty International said Khan's killing "underscores the dangers that journalists working in Pakistan, particularly areas affected by conflict, face."

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) urged the government to “ensure the safety of journalists” and bring perpetrators to justice.

Earlier this month, the dead body of journalist Aziz Memon was found with wire tied around the neck in an irrigation waterway in the southwestern Pakistani province of Sindh.

A local lawyer, Feroz Shah, was killed in an attack in the same area about two months ago. The Pakistani Taliban, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for that attack.

With reporting by AFP