Pakistani forces consolidate hold in Swat

June 4th, 2009 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 4 (IANS) Pakistani forces have consolidated their hold in Swat in the country’s restive northwest, the military said Thursday as its anti-Taliban operations entered their 41st day.
“Security forces, after successfully securing Charbagh have been able to establish link up with forces coming from Gulibagh at Dakorak,” an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.

Six militant hideouts were destroyed in various areas of Swat and Bunner in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the statement said.

In the 24 hours to Thursday afternoon, 10 terrorists were killed and six apprehended while one soldier was killed and two others were injured, the statement added.

This would take to over 1,300 the number of militants killed since the operations began April 26. Casualties among the security forces are close to 90.

In Buner district, six militant hideouts were destroyed during search operations in the areas surrounding Pir Baba, ISPR said.

In Lower Dir, a militants’ raid at Lal Qila “was effectively responded to (and the) terrorists suffered heavy casualties”, the statement said.

The Pakistani Army has established a relief fund for the civilians displaced by the fighting.

“All those desirous may donate in Army’s Relief Fund for IDPs (internally displaced persons) in Account Number 0028010121825-8, Askari Commercial Bank Limited, General Headquarters Branch Rawalpindi. Donations can also be deposited in any branch of the Askari Commercial Bank Limited, country-wide,” the ISPR statement said.

The security forces were ordered into action April 26 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 later spread to Buner and Swat. The cleric is the father-in-law of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah.

Under the peace deal, the Taliban were to lay down arms in return for the imposition of 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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