Security


Pakistan: Army claims control in key areas of Swat valley




Mingora, 29 Nov.(AKI/DAWN) - Pakistan's security forces claim to have regained control of Imam Dehri and other militant strongholds in the Swat valley in the country's North-West Frontier Province.

According to the Pakistani daily Dawn, militants and police on Wednesday claimed to have resumed their normal duty in Alpuri, the district headquarters of Shangla in the valley.

The bodies of six militants, one of them an Uzbek found by troops near the Najia Top, were handed over to the local administration. Around 50 militants have been killed in clashes over the past four days, according to official sources.

The Swat valley, next to Pakistan's tribal areas, has been the focus of intense conflict between government security forces and militants since October.

But the situation has deteriorated in the past three weeks, since pro-Taliban cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, and his supporters called for the introduction of Islamic law.

President Gen Pervez Musharraf has blamed worsening security in the region and other areas of Pakistan for the imposition of the current state of emergency declared on 3 November.

On Wednesday there were reports that Muslim Khan, a close aide of Maulana Fazlullah, had been killed near the Najia Top, but there was no confirmation from the government.

Meanwhile, Pakistan security forces continued pounding suspected militant positions.

Most of the reports received are sketchy because of curfew and the jamming of phones in the area.

According to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), security forces have gained control of Kuza Banda, Bara Banda and Imam Dehri.

“Police have moved in Alpuri and assumed their day-to-day work,” said a police officer from Bisham. He said the town administration would start functioning from Thursday.

Local people said that before leaving the Matta police station, militants had set the building on fire. They told Dawn that many militants had fled to Pawchar, an area known for its jihadi training camps.

A jirga or group of elders from Matta and adjoining areas reportedly approached the security forces in a bid to suspend the intense artillery and mortar shelling. The jirga was assured that only those areas would be targeted where troops came under fire.

Meanwhile, militants released four people they had kidnapped a few days ago for not supporting their activities.


 

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