Pakistani forces retake Charbagh in northwest

June 3rd, 2009 - 7:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 3 (IANS) Pakistani forces have fought off stiff resistance to recapture Charbagh town in the northwest from the Taliban, the military said Wednesday as the operations against the militants entered their 40th day.
“Security forces successfully secured Charbagh and are consolidating their positions in the area,” an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said, adding: “Security forces recovered a huge cache of explosives and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) during a search operation in a madrassa.”

In the last 24 hours till Wednesday afternoon, three “miscreants-terrorists” were killed in various areas of Swat district in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), while one soldier died and two others were injured, the statement said.

This brings to around 1,300 the number of Taliban fighters killed since the military operations began April 26, while the security forces have lost around 85 personnel.

In Buner district, the ISPR statement said, the security forces launched an operation early Wednesday and “successfully secured” Pir Baba and Bhai Kalay, among the last Taliban strongholds in the area.

In Lower Dir district, “the process of consolidation” was on with the security forces launching an operation to successfully secure the area from Gulabad to Shewa, Kipiari and Asband, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the army, in coordination with the civil administration, has so far distributed 803 tonnes of rations and relief goods among the displaced people of Swat.

Food items were drooped by an army helicopter for the stranded people of Kalam and surrounding areas, ISPR said, adding that five trucks carrying 25 tonnes of rations were despatched for the stranded people of Khawazakhela.

The security forces were ordered into action after the Taliban violated 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 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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