Militants take over emerald mine in Pakistan

April 2nd, 2009 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, April 2 (DPA) Taliban militants have taken control of an emerald mine in Pakistan’s troubled North-West Frontier Province and started extraction, a news report said Thursday.
More than 70 militants raided the Gojaro Kalai mine in the Shangla district Wednesday, forcing the private guards deployed there to abandon their positions, the Daily Times newspaper reported.

The US firm Luxury International had leased the mine from Pakistan’s government, but it suspended operations there in the wake of the deteriorating security situation in the region.

After taking over the mine, the rebels asked locals to resume work and share the profits with them.

Sher Bacha, mayor of the area, told the Daily Times that more than 1,000 people worked at the mine Wednesday whereas the US firm had employed 100 miners.

Shangla lies next to the Swat district, where militants loyal to local radical cleric Maulana Fazullah have waged an armed campaign since mid-2007 to enforce Taliban-style laws.

The government recently signed a peace deal with the hardliners in the region, but the truce failed to completely end the violence and instead strengthened the militants’ control.

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