Militants capture 30 Pakistani security personnel

February 4th, 2009 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Feb 4 (DPA) Islamist militants took 30 security personnel hostage after an overnight raid in Pakistan’s troubled Swat valley, officials said Wednesday.Hundreds of insurgents overran a police station in the Shamozai area late Tuesday after day-long combat, a police officer said on condition of anonymity.

At least 30 policemen and Frontier Corps paramilitary troops were jointly manning the post when it was attacked.

The rebels captured the officials and blew up the police station before moving to an unknown location, according to the officer.

A spokesman for the area police chief did not directly confirm the captures but said, “we are unable to establish contact with the (Shamozai) police station.”

The attack came as a new phase of military operations against militants of Swat entered its second week, and government forces intensified their offensive several villages of the region.

Swat used to be a tourist haven until 2007 when supporters of local radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah started an armed struggle to enforce self-styled Islamic laws, prompting the government to send in troops to try to quell the rebellion.

The rebels barred barbers from shaving beards, blew up shops selling audio and video entertainment material, and established parallel courts. They also banned education for girls and subsequently destroyed hundreds of schools.

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