1,244 Taliban killed in military operations: Official (Lead)

June 2nd, 2009 - 8:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 2 (IANS) At least 1,244 Taliban have been killed in the Pakistani military’s operations against the militants in the country’s restive northwest, parliament was informed Tuesday.
Briefing the National Assembly’s standing committee on the interior, Syed Kamal Shah, the interior secretary said 26 militant commanders have been killed in the Malakand division of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), while 89 security personnel had been killed and 276 injured during operation Rah-e-Rast, Geo TV reported.

Shah said 92 militants, including some foreigners, have been arrested.

Detailing the conduct of the military operations, which entered their 39th day Tuesday, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the security forces had cleared the Jangle Tekri area up to Sara China in Charbagh, which lies close to Mingora, the main town of Swat, one of the three districts in which the operations are underway.

“Due to stiff resistance, one security forces’ personnel embraced shahadat (died) while four were injured,” an ISPR statement said.

“Security forces have successfully secured Alam Gunj, Waliabad and Gulibagh (north of Charbagh). Fourteen miscreants-terrorists were killed and 18 apprehended in Charbagh and Alam Gunj areas,” the statement added.

With normalcy returning to Mingora, “efforts are in hand for restoration of services in the city”, ISPR said.

In Peochar, once the stronghold of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah, security forces carried out search and destroy operations in Mandi Banda area and recovered some arms and ammunition, the statement added.

The army has so far distributed 778 tonnes of relief and food items among the displaced people of Swat, the statement said.

When the operations began April 26, the military claimed it was up against some 4,000-5,000 Taliban fighters. It now says that half of these have shaved off their beards and escaped by intermingling with the civilians who are fleeing the fighting.

The security forces were ordered into action after the Taliban reneged on a controversial peace deal with the NWFP government and instead moved south from their Swat headquarters to occupy Buner, which is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations had begun in Lower Dir, the home district of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad who had brokered the peace deal and who is Maulana Fazlullah’s father-in-law, and later spread to Buner and Swat.

Under the peace deal, the Taliban were to lay down arms in return for Sharia laws in Swat, Buner, Lower Dir and four other districts of the NWFP that are collectively known as the Malakand division.

The military operations have triggered the biggest and fastest civilian exodus in recent times.

The social welfare department of NWFP has registered some 1.4 million refugees at its camps but the UN estimates the number could be as high as 3 million as many could be staying with relatives and friends.

The UN estimates that close to $543 million would be required for the relief and rehabilitation of the refugees.

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