Monday, May 18, 2009

Battles in streets of Swat cities and towns


From Dawn News:

ISLAMABAD: The battle against militants in Swat has entered a new phase with security forces launching a ground offensive in towns and cities.

'Street fight has started in Matta and the infantry is going into cities and towns for street battles,’ military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told a press briefing on Monday.

He said heavy weapons would not be used in populated areas and security forces were strictly resorting to precision targeting. ‘Our target is to clear the area of miscreants while ensuring that there is minimum collateral damage.’

He said three ‘commanders’ — Okasha, Malanga and Riaz — were among 27 terrorists killed during the operation, which has now been named Rahe Rast.

An officer and two other security personnel had been killed and 17 others were injured, he said. The spokesman said security forces were expanding their foothold in Peochar valley.

Troops attacked and secured the Dumber training centre, which was being used by miscreants as their logistic base, he said, adding that 12 terrorists had been killed in clashes in the area.

He said security personnel were engaging militants in Kanju town. An operation was under way in Takhtaband, where seven combatants had been killed in a clash and the body of militant ‘commander’ Malanga was lying with the security forces.

He said 10 to 15 terrorists had been killed in an attack on Mang Dherai. The spokesman said security forces were continuing cordon and search operations in Matta town. In reply to a question, he said those nabbed so far were ‘low-level Taliban fighters’.

Answering another question, he said an inquiry had been ordered into the kidnapping and killing of army officers by Taliban, allegedly in collusion with some officials.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said military action in other areas, including South Waziristan, would be considered if insurgents found their way into those regions.

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