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Judicial CP - October 2007

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Gulf Times, Doha, Qatar, 13 October 2007

Islamic vigilante group lashes kidnappers

PESHAWAR: A hardline Islamic vigilante group publicly lashed three alleged kidnappers in front of a crowd of 20,000 people in northwestern Pakistan yesterday, witnesses and police said.

The crowd shouted "God is great" as the men were whipped in Matta, a town in the Swat valley where mullahs want to emulate Islamic laws introduced by the 1996-2001 Taliban regime in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"Such punishments will deter others from committing crimes," hardline cleric Maulana Fazal Ullah said in his sermon before the lashings by the group which calls itself the Eagle Force.

The three men were found guilty of kidnapping two young girls by a committee of Islamic clerics and sentenced to 15, 25 and 30 lashes respectively, which were administered outside a religious school, Ullah said.

"The government is not punishing criminals, that is why the crime rate is rising," he added.

Police confirmed that three men were publicly whipped but said that they were unable to take any action because Ullah had a large following of armed men.

"He has declared a holy war against the government and it is not the police's job to fight a war," a senior police official said on condition of anonymity.

Swat was until recently one of Pakistan's top tourist destinations, but has become increasingly radicalised amid anger against a government raid on the Al Qaeda-linked Red Mosque in Islamabad in July.

The area suffered a series of suicide attacks on security forces after the mosque assault.

Pakistan's North West Frontier Province has generally suffered a spillover effect from the neighbouring tribal area bordering Afghanistan, where battles between militants and troops this week left 250 people dead.

Militants blew up six music shops in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday and Thursday, while a policeman died in a resulting gun battle with the rebels and a barber lost both hands in a blast.

Music was banned under the Taliban regime while men were required to grow beards. – AFP

Gulf Times Newspaper, 2007 ©

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