Swat truce talks fail

Published September 15, 2008

MINGORA, Sept 14: Security forces pounded Koza Bandai area in Kabal tehsil with heavy artillery on Sunday night after indirect talks between the military and Taliban for a ceasefire broke down.

A peace committee held talks with Brig Aslam, Col Bilal, Col Dar and Maj Idress at the FC camp in Kanju.

The jirga headed by Sayed Inamur Rehman had earlier met a Taliban team led by ‘commander’ Mehmood at an unspecified place. Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah talked to the jirga on phone and assured it of making all possible efforts to end violence in the area.

The 40-member jirga included Prof Mian Noor Nawab, union council Nazim Karimul Hadi, Master Mohammad Amin and Advocate Peroz Shah.

According to sources, the army officers said the Taliban should renounce militancy and leave Koza Bandai or surrender before a ceasefire could be enforced.

They said the officers made it clear that they would respond with full force to any attack by militants.

Local military spokesman Col Nadeem said there was no ceasefire although an assurance of a temporary truce had been given to the local peace jirga if the militants accepted the army’s terms and conditions.

The jirga apprised the officers of the talks held with Maulana Fazlullah.

The sources said that the militants had offered to leave the area if the troops also withdrew. The army rejected the demand for withdrawal and resumed attacks.

A spokesman said the action would continue till the area was cleared of the last militant.

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