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Taliban remove Bilour from 'hit list'

27 September, 2012

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MIRANSHAH: Pakistani Taliban on Wednesday said they have removed Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour from their "hit list" after he offered $100,000 for the killing of the filmmaker who produced the anti-Islam movie.

Bilour sparked international condemnation when he offered blood money and urged the Taliban and al Qaeda to carry out what he called the "noble deed".

"We have totally forgiven him and removed his name from our hit list," Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP in a phone call from an undisclosed location. Ehsan said that Taliban Shura had met on Tuesday and "praised Bilour for his sacrifice".

"The shura paid rich tributes to Bilour and endorsed his bounty announcement," he said. The Pakistan government and Bilour's own party have distanced themselves from the reward for the killing of the person behind the blasphemous film, which sparked violent protests across the Islamic world. But Bilour insisted public opinion was behind him in Pakistan, which has seen widespread protests against the film, including nationwide rallies on Friday that ended in bloodshed and looting, with 21 people killed.

"My faith is non-violent, but I cannot forgive and tolerate this insult," he said.

He said a businessman from Lahore had offered to put up a further $400,000 for the reward and said that freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse to insult Islam.

End.

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