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Pakistan military claims significant victory in Swat

CORPSES lay exposed in Mingora, the main town in Pakistan's Swat Valley, yesterday and residents rushed to mostly empty markets in search of food a day after the military claimed to have retaken the town from the Taliban.

Elsewhere in the northwest, officials said scores of militants were killed in fighting with soldiers that could signal Pakistan is expanding the offensive from Swat into other parts of the northwestern border region with Afghanistan.

"We have been starving for many days. We have been cooking tree leaves to keep ourselves alive. Thank God it is over," said Afzal Khan. "We need food, we need help. We want peace."

Most of Mingora's around 375,000 residents fled before or during the offensive. The military briefly lifted a curfew yesterday, allowing some of the 20,000 or so that remained to buy provisions in the few shops that were open.

Ali Rehman said he had not left his house for 25 days. "I never knew who was fighting and who was being killed," he said. "I need help to keep my family alive because I do not have any source of income anymore."

Pakistan launched an offensive against militants in the Swat Valley and surrounding districts last month after they violated the terms of a cease-fire and advanced into a region close to the capital Islamabad.


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