Eight tribal leaders were shot to death in northwest Pakistan yesterday, the Times of London reports, further roiling the near-anarchic area. The assailants are believed to be Islamic militants. The chiefs had formed a peace committee and were involved in efforts to broker a ceasefire between the military and insurgents who operate in South Waziristan, home to Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader accused of assassinating Benazir Bhutto.
Although Islamabad has stopped short of blaming Mehsud explicitly for the latest murders, it announced yesterday that it was beginning a new major operation against him. Only last weekend the governor of the tribal areas on the Afghan border, who had brokered an earlier ceasefire, resigned his post after Pervez Musharraf ignored his advice and began an incursion against Mehsud.