Hakeem was a prominent anti-Taliban tribal elder and a local Islamic cleric.

"He had issued a decree against suicide bombing and the Taliban were not happy with him," Mohammad Iqbal Marwat, the police chief of Bannu district, said.

Taliban stronghold

Bannu district borders the tribal region of North Waziristan, which along with South Waziristan is a Taliban stronghold.

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Hakeem had been instrumental in allowing Pakistani security forces to pass through the area and gain access to North Waziristan.

Pakistan's military has vowed to wipe out Taliban fighters from the northwest, and has been carrying out operations against them in the region over the last few months.

The Taliban has threatened to ramp up suicide attacks in Pakistan if the military continues with the offensive.

At least 11 people were killed in an attack in the main town of Bannu district on Saturday. The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, saying they were avenging the death of their leader Baitullah Mehsud who was killed in a US drone attack in August.

Four tribal elders who had been active in raising a government-sponsored militia against fighters in Bannu were shot dead by Taliban on September 24, police said.