Pak Affairs

60 more militants killed in Swat region assault

ISLAMABAD: An escalating battle between security forces and militants left more than 55 dead in a district near the capital even as Pakistan’s government pressed yesterday with a much-criticized peace plan in the Swat Valley region, officials said.

The army pounded Taleban positions for a sixth day since launching its latest assault. As the fighting raged, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates appealed to Congress to free up money for military aid to Pakistan, which is central to Washington’s strategy for stopping the insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan.

The army launched an operation on Tuesday to retake Buner, a district just 100 kilometers from Islamabad, after it fell to the Taleban last month. Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said yesterday at least 55 militants had been killed in fighting in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total killed so far to more than 100.

A government minister met yesterday with a key religious figure who claims he will be able to persuade the militants in Swat to lay down their arms in return for imposing Islamic law.

The cleric, Sufi Muhammad, suspended the talks earlier this week and demanded the army pull back. But he agreed to meet provincial Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain yesterday in the northwestern town of Timergara for talks that both sides termed positive.
Courtesy: Arab News

About the author

Azhar Masood

Azhar Masood is Controller of News in PTV, and Chief Instructor of PTV Academy, working for Arab News. He has Covered Iraq War from Baghdad for CNN, BBC, FOX News, and Al-Jazeera and other regional channels. He covered conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina. He interviewed Yasir Arafat of Palestine, Paul Wolfoweit, Prime Minister Jean Ghteyan of Canada, Dr. Amar Musa of Egypt, Mr. Haris Slajic, Prime Minister of Bosnia Dr. Akbar Ali Vallayati, former Foreign Minister of Iran, President Kumaratunge of Sri Lanka, Mr. Kumar Su Bramanyem, Director of National Defence Institute of India, Mr. Hamid Karzai President of Afghanistan, Dr. Ahmad Chalabi of Iraq National Congress, Mr. Hoshyar Zubari, Vice President Kurdish Democratic Party of Iraq

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