World digest: Ex-spy's killing exposes militant rifts in North Waziristan

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Ex-spy's killing exposes militant rifts, tangles

The hornet's nest of militant groups in Pakistan's mountainous northwest was already complicated. Now, analysts have to factor in the Asian Tigers.

The previously unknown group recently identified itself as responsible for the kidnapping of a British journalist and two former Pakistani spies who had traveled to the tribal areas in late March to film a documentary. On Friday, Pakistani authorities said the Asian Tigers had fatally shot one of the captives, prominent ex-intelligence officer Khalid Khawaja.

That would be an unsurprising fate in famously dangerous North Waziristan, a region populated by Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents. But the two former spies were known allies of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, which apparently led them to believe they would have safe passage.

Pakistani officials, who confirmed Khawaja's death on the condition of anonymity, said they think the Asian Tigers are a sectarian faction of a militant group based in Pakistan's Punjabi region.

The murky circumstances sparked speculation about whether Khawaja -- who had campaigned against the alleged disappearances of suspected militants by intelligence services -- may have been set up by former colleagues.

Many analysts said his killing highlighted the tangled nature of Pakistan's militant web, and how little old connections might mean as new groups arise.

-- Karin Brulliard


Slayings of troops blamed on officer

A disgruntled military officer may be responsible for an attack against south Sudan forces in oil-rich Upper Nile state that left at least eight people dead, according to the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

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