Imran Khan barred from entering Karachi

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Pakistani authorities stopped the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan travelling to Karachi yesterday for fear his trip could trigger violence in the commercial hub.

Last week, at least 27 people were killed in clashes there between rival ethnic-based factions, another security worry for the nuclear- armed country already battling a wave of Islamist militant violence.

In the latest militant violence, Pakistani Taliban beheaded two government officials in the north-western Swat Valley, police said. A militant spokesman said the beheadings were revenge for the killing of two insurgents commanders by security forces.

The trouble comes as the President Asif Ali Zardari prepares to meet Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai in Washington.