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Foki 15-05-2009 01:32 PM

Kayani vows to flush out militancy from Swat
 
Friday, May 15, 2009
Visits war-torn valley; three commanders among 54 militants killed; ISPR terms BBC report malicious; says no foreign hand behind operation

By Delawar Jan, Essa Khankhel & Muhammad Anis

PESHAWAR/MINGORA: Security forces on Thursday claimed to have killed 54 militants, including three commanders, and suffered nine casualties during fighting in the Swat Valley. Also, on the same day, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited the valley and vowed to flush out militancy from the area.

Gen Kayani visited Swat and met field commanders and troops taking part in the operation. Appreciating the high morale of the troops, he reiterated the Army’s resolve to flush out militancy from Swat and defeat the militants.

Gen Kayani was briefed on the progress of operations by General Officer Commanding. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that 21 militants were killed when their attack on the base of security forces in Peuchar, the militants’ headquarters, was repulsed. Eight personnel of security forces suffered injuries in the clash. The ISPR said that the troops continued search and destroy operation in the mountainous Peuchar area.

In an action in Ramotai Loe, 15 hideouts were destroyed and 15 militants, including three snipers, were killed. Military sources said that two commanders of the militants, identified as Sadiq and Amir Wahid, were killed in shelling by gunship helicopters in Banai Baba area of Charbagh Tehsil.

Three militants were killed in Odigram, six kilometres south of Mingora city, where intense fighting was reported on Thursday. Security forces also defused improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Barikot and cleared the area up to Odigram.

The ISPR said the three militants killed also included an important commander.Also, fierce fighting continued in the north of Shalpalam area. However, no detail was provided about the casualties.

Snipers gunned down two militants near the Circuit House, a military base in Mingora. In Tursak area near Mingora, 13 militants were killed. The military conceded nine casualties in clashes with the militants in Swat Valley, besides injuries to 14 others.

A statement of the ISPR said that extraordinary measures were being taken to avoid collateral damage in line with the instructions of the COAS. Security forces have been using artillery guns, jet fighters and gunship helicopters to hit suspected locations of the militants in parts of Swat, including the Mingora city. Tens of thousands of residents from Mingora and its surrounding towns and villages have streamed out to escape the escalated military operation against Maulana Fazlullah-led militants.

The ground forces launched the operation in Sultanwas, considered to be the stronghold of militants in Buner district, early Thursday morning to dislodge them. The ISPR said that the militants were running away from the area and they could get hold of the area within the next two days.

In Dir Lower, scores of casualties were reported from various areas in action by security forces. However, military sources said reports about the casualties in Dir Lower were incorrect.Local sources said that security forces attacked the house of union council Nazim Hayaserai Ziaul Haq, which was occupied by militants and killed more than 20 Taliban. Some sources said the number of casualties was even higher.

Eight to 10 militants’ casualties from Tandodag and 12 from Daro and Lal Qilla were also reported. There were also reports about the killing of two soldiers in Tandodag clash and as many children in Gulabad.

Meanwhile, in Islamabad, ISPR Director General Major General Athar Abbas said ata press conference that no external power was involved in planning, executing and financing the ongoing operation in Swat.

He said no decision to transfer the drone technology to Pakistan had officially been conveyed to Pakistan by the US authorities.He rejected as baseless a BBC report that militants were holding control of most parts of the NWFP, calling the report part of a malicious campaign.

He said Bajaur had been cleared of militants. “A few FC pickets operating in Mohmand Agency are clearing the agency of the remaining militants,” he added. He said not a single headquarters of any of the seven agencies in the Fata had ever been overrun or held by the militants. “All roads in Fata are open and we are also supporting our huge force deployed on the border through all these roads,” he said.

Athar Abbas said security forces had firmed up their positions despite resistance and were successfully pursuing their set target in Peuchar where heliborne troops, including commandos, had recently landed to conduct search and destroy operations.

“The air force is targeting mountains where militants have training centres or have dumped ammunition, food and logistics,” he said. He said Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Swat to boost the morale of troops and exchange views with the commanders.

To a question, he said civilian casualties did take place in Mingora, but it was because of indiscriminate firing by the militants. He said security forces were not conducting the operation in populated areas at the moment.

The DG ISPR assured that extraordinary measures were being taken to avoid collateral damage as per the instructions of the Army chief. He said the Army realised that the management of the IDPs was as important as the military operation in Swat. “The Special Support Group is making all-out efforts to manage the IDPs in a befitting manner,” he added.


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