Pakistani forces kill 28 Taliban in Swat


Islamabad : Pakistani security forces Friday killed 28 more militants and arrested another seven in an ongoing massive operation against the Taliban in the northwestern district of Swat.

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The Pakistani Army said in a statement that five soldiers and two civilians were also injured in clashes and exchange of fire with the militants at various places in the area.

The army launched operations against Taliban militants in Swat, located nearly 140 km form Islamabad, early this month when the militants failed to observe a peace deal with the government.

The officials claim that over 1,100 militants and some 90 soldiers have been killed in the operation, which also displaced nearly three million people from Swat and three neighbouring districts.

The army said that it successfully cleared the Taliban’s stronghold at Peochar village as its cordon and search operation continued to wrest back complete control of strategic Peochar valley, a stronghold of Maulana Fazlullah who has led the Taliban uprising in Swat.

“Security forces destroyed miscreants’ hideouts including one madrasa and recovered 12 UN-registered vehicles. Four tunnels were discovered with ration items stolen from NGOs and a huge cache of arms, including 12.7 millimetre guns (from Peochar),” the army said.

The security forces also secured the Bahrain area in Swat and killed nine terrorists, including the commander of Bahrian, Khush Mir Khan, also known as Abu Huzaifa.

It was not possible to independently confirm the military claim as the areas is closed to journalists.

The Swat operation, which has been cheered by the US and other Western allies, has triggered a violent response by various Taliban groups which have intensified attacks on security forces and civilians targets in recent days.

On Thursday, a series of explosions rocked North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) where Swat is located, killing 15 people.

Two back-to-back time explosive devices planted in parked motorbikes detonated in a busy street, Qissa Khwani Bazar, in Peshawar, the NWFP capital. Six people, including two children, died and more than 70 were injured.

Following the blasts, a police officer killed three suspects and arrested two more after a shootout in the area.

An hour later, two suicide bombers detonated an explosive-laden vehicle when they were stopped at a security check post on the outskirts of Peshawar. Five people, most of them law enforcers, died in the attack.

Five more people were killed in a separate suicide bombing at a security post in another NWFP district, Dera Ismail Khan.

“Foreseeing their defeat, they are targeting the cities. These are cowardly acts,” NWFP Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain said Friday, adding: “The government will never bow to them (the Taliban).”