Taliban engaging in street fighting after Pak Army storms into Mingora

May 24th, 2009 - 12:17 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Islamabad, May 24 (ANI): Intensifying its operation against the Taliban in the Swat Valley, the Pakistan Army has reportedly stormed into Mingora, the main town of the Valley, and is engaged in street battles with the extremists.

According to reports, 17militants have been killed in the last 24 hours as troops entered the city.

Addressing a daily briefing here, the ISPR spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said ‘Operation Rah-e-Rast’ has entered an important phase and the troops were bracing for an intense and bloody fight ahead.

“It’s a very intense battle. Everyone is sniping one another,” The New York Times quoted Major General Abbas, as saying.

The confrontation between the military and the Taliban was confined to the mountainous region and villages of Swat, but now it has shifted to Mingora, situated about 100 miles from away from Islamabad.

The struggle in Mingora is being seen as a test of the ability of the Pakistani military.

With the military operation gaining momentum, fears about large scale civilian casualties is making the task of the security forces more difficult.

The Army is unable to determine exactly how many civilians are still trapped in the region.

“It is difficult to estimate how many civilians or militants are present in the city,” Major General Abbas said.

He added that there were about 1,500 ‘hardcore militants’ still fighting in the Valley, and that the army would try to complete the operation in eight weeks.

Meanwhile, intense clashes were reported from Nishat Chowk in Mingora.

In another incident three caves with large quantities of ammunition and rations were discovered by the troops during a search operation in the Qambar Ridge area near Mingora. (ANI)

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