Two senior militant commanders killed in Pakistan


Islamabad : The Pakistani army said it killed two senior militant commanders in the troubled Swat mountain district Sunday.

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Amir Zeb and another rebel leader identified as Ayub were gunned down during a search operation in the Sambat area of Swat Valley’s Matta sub-district, military spokesman Major Murad Khan said.

Pakistani troops also blew up a rebel hideout during the successful operation, which came after an attack on a convoy of security forces in the area. No government casualties were reported in the attack.

Government forces have been battling militant supporters of firebrand pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Fazlullah since October 2007 when the rebels launched an armed struggle to impose self-defined Islamic laws on the region.

The Swat valley saw a brief lull in the fighting earlier this year when a new democratic government initiated peace talks with Fazlullah’s men. When the truce did not hold, militants relaunched roadside attacks and suicide bombing campaigns against the army within weeks.

The rebels have also destroyed several government buildings, including girls’ schools, a gas installation and a grid station, leaving most parts of the Swat district without electricity.

The power cut also led to the suspension of supplies of potable water to different towns, forcing residents to turn to wells and underground sources. According to media reports, outbreaks of cholera and gastroenteritis through untreated water have afflicted nearly 2,000 people.