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Pakistani Troops Retake Largest Town in Swat Valley.. [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2009-5-30 21:23:44 |Display all floors
Pakistani Troops Retake Largest Town in Swat Valley

AP
Saturday, May 30, 2009  

ISLAMABAD ? Pakistani troops have retaken the largest town in the Swat Valley from the Taliban as the army presses its offensive against militants in the country's northwest, the army spokesman said Saturday.

Government forces had full control of Mingora, though they were still meeting pockets of resistance from fighters on the outskirts of the town, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told The Associated Press.

The military launched a major offensive one month ago in the Swat Valley and neighboring areas to oust Taliban militants who were extending their control over the northwestern region, near the border with Afghanistan.

The campaign is strongly backed by Washington and the government's other Western allies, who see it as a test of the government's resolve to fight extremism in the Pakistan.

"As far as Mingora city, security forces have taken over," Abbas said. "There are still pockets of resistance. They are on the periphery of Mingora city."

Government troops have been advancing steadily into the Swat region, bombarding towns from the air and fighting house-to-house with Taliban gunmen.

The fighting has caused more than 2 million people to flee the region, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis. More than 160,000 people are taking refuge in sweltering refugee camps south of the battle zone, while the rest are staying with relatives or relying on goodwill from local residents.

Widespread domestic support for the campaign could sour if the government is perceived to have failed the refugees or if a high number of civilian casualties is revealed.

The Taliban has warned it will launch terrorist strikes in Pakistani cities in retaliation for the campaign, and claimed responsibility for a gun and suicide bomb attack on Wednesday in the eastern city of Lahore that killed at least 30 people. A day later, three suicide bombings killed at least 14 people in two cities in the northwest.

The military says more than 1,100 militants have been killed in the Swat offensive and tens of troops, but that civilian casualties have been minimal. The tally and the extent of destruction caused by the fighting is largely unknown because media have been restricted from traveling in the region.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday defended the decision to launch the offensive, saying it was necessary because the Taliban had challenged the authority of the government by advancing from its stronghold of Swat to the neighboring district of Buner, just 60 (100 kilometers) from the capital, Islamabad.

"The very existence of Pakistan was at stake, we had to start the operation," Gilani told a group of workers at state-owned Pakistan Television.

He promised cash payments to people forced from their homes and a massive reconstruction effort.

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Post time 2009-6-1 06:13:19 |Display all floors
Trapped Residents in Pakistan Emerge, Seek Food in Swat Town

AP
Sunday, May 31, 2009  

MINGORA, Pakistan  ? People trapped at home for weeks emerged in search of food at barren shops while corpses lay exposed in the Swat Valley's main city Sunday, as a Pakistani official suggested the army offensive against the Taliban in the region could end in days.

Elsewhere along the Afghan border area, dozens of militants died in clashes with soldiers in a tribal region, fighting that could nudge the military to expand its offensive beyond Swat.

An Associated Press reporter who visited Mingora a day after the army declared it was secured saw many damaged buildings. Two decomposing bodies, apparently those of insurgents, lay unburied in a cemetery; a third, charred corpse lay near a shopping mall.

The smell of explosives hung in the air.

"We have been starving for many days. We have been cooking tree leaves to keep ourselves alive. Thank God it is over," said Afzal Khan. "We need food. We need help. We want peace."

Pakistan launched an offensive against militants in Swat and surrounding districts last month after they violated the terms of a cease-fire and advanced into a region close to the capital, Islamabad.

Speaking in Singapore, Pakistan's defense secretary predicted the army would clear remaining militant strongholds in the valley in "two to three days." Pakistan's military spokesman said that assessment was overly optimistic.

The Swat offensive has earned U.S. praise as troops have regained large swaths of the region from an estimated 4,000 militants. The fighting has forced up to 3 million people to evacuate.

In South Waziristan tribal region, meanwhile, insurgent attacks on an army convoy and checkpoint Saturday night sparked clashes that left scores scores dead. About 50 militants and two soldiers were killed, according to two intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.

A military statement Sunday said at least 25 militants and seven soldiers died in South Waziristan, the main stronghold of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud. Qari Husain Ahmed, a Taliban commander in South Waziristan, disputed both accounts, telling AP via phone that only two militants died.

The differences could not immediately be reconciled.

Most of Mingora's at least 375,000 residents fled before or during the offensive. The military briefly lifted a curfew Sunday, allowing some of the 20,000 or so who remained to buy provisions in the few shops that were open.

Ali Rehman said he had not left his house for 25 days.

"I never knew who was fighting and who was being killed," he said, clutching two bags of flour. "I need help to keep my family alive because I do not have any source of income anymore."

Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross visiting other parts of the valley Saturday were "alarmed."

'People have been blocked for weeks," team leader Daniel O'Malley said in a statement released Sunday.

"There is no running water, no electricity, and food is scarce. There is no fuel left for generators and most medical facilities in the district are no longer functioning. Phone lines are down, so people have been cut off from the outside world and are anxious for contact with relatives who fled the area."

The military said relief work was proceeding in Mingora but it will be at least two weeks before power is restored there, so refugees are not being encouraged to return home yet.

More than 1,200 militants have been killed in the Swat offensive, according to the military ?a figure that cannot be independently verified. The military has not released civilian casualty numbers and it is unclear how it distinguishes militants from noncombatants.

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Post time 2009-6-1 20:39:32 |Display all floors
Pakistan Lifts Curfews in More Swat Towns

AP
Monday, June 01, 2009  

MINGORA, Pakistan  ? The military lifted curfews Monday in seven towns in the Swat Valley in a further sign of confidence that its offensive against the Taliban there is making progress, while a bomb killed two people elsewhere in the northwest.

The order will allow thousands of people caught in the battle zone to leave their homes and search for food and other supplies that have dwindled, often to nothing, in the past month of fighting.

The loosening of restrictions posed new dangers for residents, however, with one saying he saw soldiers open fire at civilians in Mingora town as they emerged from hiding places, apparently because they suspected they were Taliban.

"I saw two people who came out to ask for relief goods and they opened the fire on them from the mountains," said Gohar Ali, one of many Mingora residents who had been trapped for weeks in his home until a curfew was lifted briefly on Sunday. Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said he was unaware of the incident.

The military said in a statement that daytime curfews were lifted Monday in the Swat towns of Bahrain, Madyan, Fatehpur, Khwazakhela, Matta and Alpurai and in the nearby district of Shangla.

Pakistan launched an offensive against militants in Swat and surrounding districts a month ago after they violated the terms of a cease-fire and advanced into a region close to the capital, Islamabad.

The Swat offensive has earned U.S. praise as troops have regained large swaths of the region from an estimated 4,000 militants. The fighting has forced up to 3 million people to evacuate, threatening a humanitarian crisis.

A string of homicide bombings away from Swat are likely retaliatory attacks by the Taliban, officials say. A blast at a busy bus terminal in Kohat town on Monday killed at least two people and wounded at least 18 others, said local police officer Zafarullah Khan.

A day after the military declared it had retaken the town, Mingora on Sunday was battle-scarred and an Associated Press reporter who visited say two decomposing bodies lying unburied in a cemetery and a third, charred corpse near a shopping mall.

"We have been starving for many days. We have been cooking tree leaves to keep ourselves alive. Thank God it is over," said resident Afzal Khan. "We need food. We need help. We want peace."

Most of Mingora's at least 375,000 residents fled the offensive. The military briefly lifted a curfew Sunday, allowing some of the 20,000 or so who remained to buy provisions in the few shops that were open.

About 200 families returned to Mingora during Sunday's lull in the curfew, but refugees should not go home yet because the security situation was still unstable and the town has no power, said local lawmaker Haji Mohammad Adeel.

International Committee of the Red Cross officials who visited other parts of the valley Saturday were "alarmed" at what they found.

"There is no running water, no electricity, and food is scarce," team leader Daniel O'Malley said in a statement Sunday. "There is no fuel left for generators and most medical facilities in the district are no longer functioning. Phone lines are down, so people have been cut off from the outside world."

Elsewhere along the Afghan border area, dozens of militants died in weekend clashes with soldiers in the South Waziristan tribal region, fighting that could nudge the military to expand its offensive beyond Swat.

Insurgents attacked an army convoy and a checkpoint Saturday night, sparking clashes that killed at least 25 militants and seven soldiers, the military said.

President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday ordered the immediate release of 500 million rupees ($6 million) to provide aid to refugees, and said he would appeal for more international help during a visit to EU headquarters.

"Relief and rehabilitation of the displaced persons is central to this fight," Zardari was quoted as saying by the state-run news agency.

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Post time 2009-6-1 20:50:25 |Display all floors
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Don't harmonize me

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Post time 2009-6-1 20:51:39 |Display all floors
Originally posted by iamnaive at 2009-6-1 21:50
The Al Qaida fan club shines by being absent.



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Post time 2009-6-1 20:58:14 |Display all floors
Originally posted by iamnaive at 2009-6-1 20:50
The Al Qaida fan club shines by being absent.


True....not a single leading Taliban and Al Qaeda militant was captured or killed. It was just a whitewash to get more funds as like fighting these barbarians which they created and bred....

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Post time 2009-6-1 21:05:38 |Display all floors
Originally posted by manoj10 at 2009-6-1 21:58


True....not a single leading Taliban and Al Qaeda militant was captured or killed. It was just a whitewash to get more funds as like fighting these barbarians which they created and bred....



.......and is the government really in control? Can they trust their own army? How much is the army undermined by the ISI? Being PM of Pakistan is no easy task. It's somehow similar to Don Quixote fighting windmills......

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