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Anti-militant protest bubbles up in Pakistan

From Reza Sayah, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Marchers beat on drums and fired guns in Mir Ali
  • A kidnapping sparked the grass-roots demo
  • A tribal elder helped organize the march

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Hundreds of local residents fed up with militants in northwestern Pakistan protested against the Taliban and al Qaeda on Saturday, demanding their ouster from the region, a protest leader told CNN.

Qasim Khan, a tribal elder and one of the organizers of the demonstration, told CNN that protesters beat on drums and fired their guns in the air as they marched along the streets of Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan, a district in Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan and a notorious militant stronghold.

North Wazirstan is widely believed to be a haven for al Qaeda-linked groups who launch attacks across the border in Afghanistan against U.S. and international troops. The district has also been the target of most of the more than 80 suspected U.S. drone strikes this year targeting militants.

Khan said the protests were organized after militants kidnapped a local resident on Friday. He accused al Qaeda and foreign militants of the kidnapping.

"We will not allow the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to stay in our land and will get rid of them by force if necessary," Khan told CNN by phone from his home in Mir Ali.

Journalist Nasir Dawar contributed to this report