Pakistani Taliban cut "U.S. spy's" throat

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan Fri Feb 2, 2007 7:51am EST

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (Reuters) - Suspected pro-Taliban militants cut the throat of an Afghan refugee accused of being a U.S. spy in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan region, and dumped the body in a sewer, witnesses said on Friday.

"His throat was slit and a note pinned to his body read ' American spy, Gafoor Tani'," said Mohammad Hanif, a resident of

Masharkot village, 10 kilometres (6 miles) north of Miranshah, North Waziristan's main town.

During the past three years, militants in North and South Waziristan have killed dozens of people suspected of being pro-government or of spying for the United States, and many families have fled the region.

Pakistani security forces' hunt for al Qaeda fighters in the semi-autonomous areas bordering Afghanistan brought the army into conflict with pro-Taliban tribesmen, and around 700 troops have been killed in Waziristan since late 2003.

A peace pact agreed in September began falling apart last month after the army launched an airstrike on a suspected al Qaeda and Taliban base.

On Thursday, gunmen ambushed and killed two Pakistani government officials and a guard in North Waziristan.

There has been speculation that three suicide bomb attacks that killed nearly 20 people over the past week -- in the capital, Islamabad, and in two northwestern towns -- might have been revenge for the air strike.

A government official in the southern city of Karachi said security agencies had arrested at least a dozen suspected militants over recent days but it was premature to say if they were linked to the blasts.