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Pak anti-Taleban hero dies

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A Pakistani nationalist hero who defied the Taleban in Swat Valley and survived more than 10 assassination attempts by the insurgents has died peacefully of liver disease at the age of 89, his family said Monday.

Prominent Pashtun leader Afzal Khan Lala was feted nationwide after his stand in Swat, where he vowed he would stay despite multiple attacks on his home by the Taleban and a bloody military offensive that displaced millions. He was buried late Sunday in the scenic valley after he passed away in a military hospital in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, his nephew told AFP.

In 2007 the valley — previously a popular international tourist destination, which lies in the shadow of the Hindu Kush in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — fell under the control of the Pakistani Taleban. Radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah mounted a violent campaign in which his followers beheaded opponents, burnt schools and fought to enforce Islamic sharia law. (AFP)

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