MINGORA, Aug 23: Ten army soldiers, seven policemen, 50 militants and a number of civilians were killed in a suicide attack on a police station and the subsequent military operation in Swat on Saturday.

A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden jeep into the Charbagh police station at 7.45am, killing four policemen and three civilians. Twenty others were wounded. About 100kg of explosives were used in the attack.

Ali Rahmat Khan and Yousaf Ali Khan, senior police officials, told reporters that body parts of the suicide bomber had been found at the scene.

The dead policemen included Havaldar Ashraf, and constables Pervaiz, Ali Syed and Kishwar. The three civilians remained unidentified.

The explosion was so powerful that a major portion of the police station was completely destroyed and about 100 nearby houses and shops were partially damaged. A police mobile van was also destroyed.

The main line supplying power to various parts of Charbagh was damaged.

The ISPR’s spokesman in Swat, Maj Nasir Ali, told Dawn that soon after the suicide attack, security forces, backed by helicopter gunships, pounded militants’ hideouts in the valley, killing 50 Taliban, including their top commanders and foreigners.

Ten army soldiers were killed and seven others injured in the fighting and three army vehicles were damaged. Several militant hideouts, including their command and control centre in Kabal, were destroyed.

Maj Nasir said the operation would continue till all objectives were achieved and the government’s writ was restored.

However, the Taliban dismissed the ISPR version, claiming in turn that they had eliminated 33 security personnel.

Spokesman Muslim Khan told Dawn by phone from an undisclosed location that the Taliban had carried out the suicide attack in reaction to the killing of 14 Taliban in Doaba, Hangu. “It is only a beginning and more attacks will come if the operation is not stopped in Swat.”In another incident, three policemen were killed when militants attacked their van near Manglawar. Faiz Mohammad, Amir Hatim and Bakht Zarin were returning from Charbagh after inspecting the scene of the suicide bombing. The driver was unhurt.

An elderly man and a child were killed and four students injured when a bomb planted by militants exploded in an abandoned police post in Aboha, a town near Bari Kot. A number of nearby homes and shops were damaged.

Another vacant post was blown up in Deolai, near Kabal.

The militants blew up four bridges --- two in Deolai and one each in Totano Banda and Dandary.

A girl was killed and five others were injured when a shell hit their house in Kabal. Another shell hit a house in Akhund Kalley, killing a man and injuring four others.

Officials said security forces had destroyed a militant headquarter in Kabal. It was being used to prepare suicide jackets and explosive material and train bombers.

Security forces blew up an FM radio station being run by the Taliban. A large quantity of arms and ammunition was found.

An indefinite curfew was in force in Swat on Saturday.

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