Swat Taliban chief Fazlullah may be injured: Minister

June 22nd, 2009 - 10:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 22 (IANS) Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah may have been injured in the Pakistani military’s offensive against the militants in the country’s restive northwest, Interior Minister Rehman Malik was quoted as saying Monday.
The security forces had laid a cordon around an area in which Fazlullah was holed up and there were reports of his being injured, Geo TV quoted Malik as saying, without elaborating.

This is the second time since the military offensive in the North West Frontier Province began 57 days ago that reports of Fazlullah being injured have emerged.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had earlier said that the most of the Swat Taliban leadership had been crushed. He also said that silence is being maintained on Fazlullah but information about his fate will be gathered and made public.

Fazlullah’s reneging on a controversial peace deal his Taliban-backed radical cleric father-in-law Sufi Mohammad had brokered with the NWFP government had prompted the military to go into action April 26.

Instead of laying down their arms, the Taliban had moved south from their Swat headquarters and occupied Buner, which is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations had begun in Sufi Mohammad’s home district of Lower Dir and later spread to Buner and Swat - and to South Waziristan earlier this month.

South Waziristan is the headquarters of Baitullah Mehsud, who heads the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the umbrella group of various Taliban groups operating in Pakistan.

Mehsud is also accused of having a hand in the Dec 27, 2007, gun and bomb attack that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto as she left a political rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi adjacent to Islamabad.

The military operations have displaced 3.8 million civilians from the three districts of NWFP, a press release issued by the provincial government says.

The military says 1,592 Taliban have so far been killed in the operations but the figures are not independently verifiable as the media has been barred from the battle zone.

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