TALIBAN CUT HAIR AND BEARDS TO FLEE PAKISTAN ASSAULT

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BANNU, Pakistan: Hundreds of Taliban fighters rushed to disguise themselves with new haircuts in the weeks before a Pakistani army assault, it has emerged, as refugees revealed details of life under the militants—and their taste for imported luxuries. Azam Khan was one of the top barbers in Miranshah—the main town of North Waziristan—until he, like nearly half a million others, fled the long-awaited offensive unleashed by the Pakistan military on the tribal area in June. He told Agence France-Presse his business boomed in the month leading up to the army assault as the militants sought to shed their distinctive long-haired, bearded look. “I have trimmed the hair and beards of more than 700 local and Uzbek militants ahead of the security forces’ operation,” he said while cutting hair in a shop in Bannu, the town where most civilians fled. For years he cut Taliban commanders’ hair to match the flowing locks of former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leader Hakimullah Mehsud, killed by a US drone last November, but in May a change in style was called for.

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AFP

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