Taliban announces indefinite ceasefire in Swat (Second Lead)

February 24th, 2009 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Feb 24 (IANS) The Taliban Tuesday declared an indefinite ceasefire in Pakistan’s restive Swat region where Islamabad has allowed the militant group to impose Shariat (Islamic law).
The outlawed Tahreek-i-Taliban Swat (TTS) declared the indefinite ceasefire in Swat, Geo TV reported Tuesday.

The announcement came after Taliban’s local chief Maulana Fazlullah convened a meeting of the shoora (council) at an undisclosed place in Matta district of Swat region.

“Today (Tuesday) the shoora met under Maulana Fazlullah and decided to hold a ceasefire for an indefinite period,” the report quoted TTS spokesman Haji Muslim Khan as saying.

“We are releasing all prisoners unconditionally. Today we released four paramilitary soldiers and we will release all security personnel in our custody as a goodwill gesture,” he said.

The meeting has also decided not to attack security forces and government property.

On Monday, Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad unveiled a ten-point plan for restoration of peace in Swat.

Maulana Fazlullah held a peace parley with TNSM chief — and his father-in-law — Maulana Sufi Muhammad last week after the Shariat imposition.

Muhammad had said he would return from Swat only after achieving the objective of restoring peace and disarming the insurgents in the region.

The TNSM chief had signed an agreement with the North West Frontier Province government to enforce Shariat in Malakand division, which comprises Swat and its adjoining areas bordering Afghanistan.

Following the agreement, the insurgents announced a 10-day ceasefire Feb 15 in the insurgency-hit Swat Valley.

Besides hundreds of militants and government troops, more than 1,200 non-combatants are believed to have been killed in nearly 16 months of fighting in Swat, which used to be a popular tourist destination for its serene settings and trout-filled streams.

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