Related News

Home » World

Pakistan claims Taliban 'on the run'

PAKISTANI warplanes bombed suspected militant positions in a stronghold close to the capital, Islamabad, yesterday, pressing ahead with a fierce offensive that has driven hundreds of thousands from their homes, many into crowded refugee camps.

The government claimed 700 insurgents had died and the Taliban were on the run.

In one camp in the town of Mardan, just south of the battle zone, hundreds of displaced people lined up for hours to register with the United Nations to get tents, food and medical treatment.

"In this camp, I am not seeing anything that will give us much relief," said a new arrival, Iftikiar Khan, fearing the facilities there were insufficient. Like most of those fleeing, Khan said he ultimately hoped to stay with relatives.

The UN said 360,600 refugees had fled Swat and the neighboring Dir and Buner districts since operations began last week. That number is on top of some 500,000 people displaced by past offensives - a major humanitarian challenge for the weak government that could test public support for the offensive. Most of the refugees are staying with friends and relatives or in rented accommodation.

Islamabad's tough military response has drawn praise from the United States, which wants al-Qaida and Taliban militants rooted out from havens where they can plan attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as destabilize nuclear-armed Pakistan.

The military launched the offensive after the insurgents in Swat used a peace deal to impose their reign in other neighboring areas, including a stretch just 100 kilometers from the capital.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said 700 militants had been killed around Swat in the last four days.

Addressing parliament, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the army had cleared mines planted by insurgents in the region's main town Mingora.

Elsewhere in Pakistan's northwest yesterday, a suicide bomber blew up his vehicle at a checkpoint, killing six civilians and two members of the Frontier Constabulary security force, police said.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend