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Troops wrest control of key Swat areas

November 29, 2007


MINGORA, Nov 28: Security forces claimed on Wednesday to have gained full control of Imam Dehri and some other strongholds of militants and police resumed their normal duty in Alpuri, the district headquarters of Shangla.

The bodies of six militants, one of them an Uzbek found by troops near the Najia Top, were handed over to the local administration. Around 50 militants have been killed in clashes over the past four days, according to official sources.

There were reports that Muslim Khan, a close aide of Maulana Fazlullah, had been killed near the Najia Top, but there was no confirmation from the government.

It is learnt that militants vacated Matta, Khwazakhela and Madyan police stations on Tuesday night and fled to nearby forests. They also left the Charbagh police post in Khwazakhela, their stronghold about 27km from Mingora. Police and troops are yet to enter the areas.

The forces, meanwhile, continued pounding suspected militants’ positions.

Most of the reports received are sketchy because of curfew and the jamming of phones in the area.

According to the ISPR, security forces have gained control of Kuza Banda, Bara Banda and Imam Dehri.

The curfew was relaxed in Mingora from 8am to 2pm and in other areas from 8am to noon.

“Police have moved in Alpuri and assumed their day-to-day work,” said a police officer from Bisham. He said the town administration would start functioning from Thursday.

Local people said that before leaving the Matta police station, militants had set on fire the record and a portion of the building. According to them, the militants had mostly fled to Pawchar, an area known for its jihadi training camps.

The government media centre in Mingora said local people in Kuza Banda had helped the security forces in destroying 30 trenches, adding that militants were on the retreat in Khwazakhela, Charbagh, Madyan and other areas.

It is learnt that a jirga of elders from Matta and adjoining areas approached the security forces to suspend the intense artillery and mortar shelling. The jirga was assured that only those areas would be targeted where troops came under fire.

Meanwhile, militants released four people they had kidnapped a few days ago for not supporting their activities.