Pakistani forces wrest key town from Taliban (Lead)April 29th, 2009 - 2:49 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, April 29 (IANS) Pakistani security forces Wednesday wrested control of a key town in restive North West Frontier Province’s Buner district from the Taliban fighters, authorities said.
Troops secured Daggar, which is the main town in Buner district, after being dropped by helicopters behind Taliban lines, a military spokesman said on the second day of the offensive against the Taliban Wednesday.
The troops have linked up with police and the Frontier Constabulary, Dawn reported.
At least 60 personnel of police and the Frontier Constabulary were taken hostage by Taliban in Buner’s Pir Baba area as security forces, backed by helicopter gunships and jet fighters, launched an operation in the district Tuesday and pounded suspected hideouts of militants in some of its border areas.
Two policemen who were out of the police station at the time of the attack told Dawn that militants had set up their headquarters at a mosque adjacent to the shrine of Pir Baba and the hostages were taken there.
“Security forces’ troops dropped down by helicopters on mountains as operation continued in Buner and remote areas,” the News International reported.
Pakistan’s interior ministry chief Rehman Malik Tuesday told Geo TV Tuesday that there was a threat of reaction from militants in other parts of the country following launch of a major military offensive in Buner.
He said that the government would launch operation in every area where writ of the state was challenged.
“Time for Taliban militants has ended,” he was quoted as saying.
At least 70 militants were killed by the security forces in Lower Dir while nearly 450 terrorists were holed up in Buner area, Malik said Tuesday, adding “we will not tolerate them anymore”.
The North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad had Feb 16 signed a controversial peace accord to impose Sharia laws in Swat and six other districts of the province in return for the militants laying down their arms.
President Asif Ali Zardari baulked at ratifying the accord in the face of strident international pressure and tossed the deal to parliament, which approved it April 13. Zardari approved it the same night and the accord came into force two days later.
The Taliban, however, did not keep their end of the bargain and moved south from Swat to seize control of Buner district last week.
While some of them moved out after intervention from Sufi Mohammad, chief of Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), a Taliban-aligned group, the bulk of the militants had stayed back, prompting the security forces to act against them.
Tags: border areas, buner, daggar, forces troops, frontier province, geo tv, helicopter gunships, hideouts, interior ministry, jet fighters, launch, military spokesman, north west frontier, peace accord, pir baba, provin, radical cleric, rehman malik, sharia laws, taliban fighters