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Militants torch four more girls schools in Swat

MINGORA/PESHAWAR: Militants torched four more girl schools in different towns of Swat Valley as a top military official Monday vowed to eliminate militants in the ongoing “full-scale and decisive” military operation against the Fazlullah-led Taliban.

In Pishtonai area of Matta tehsil, a mortar shell hit a house killing a minor girl and wounding several others. The security forces targeted militants’ positions with artillery fire on sixth consecutive day of the operation on Monday and arrested five suspected combatants at Wenai checkpost.

Briefing newsmen at Mingora Circuit House, Brig Zia Anjum Bodla said 94 militants were killed in the last six days. He put the number of dead security forces personnel at 14 besides 20 civilian casualties. “We regret the killing of innocent citizens but the militants kept attacking us from the civilian population. We observed utmost restraint in responding to the militant attacks from the civilian population to avoid casualties,” he added.

He said the operation had been started with the consent of the provincial government and would continue till its ‘logical end’. When contacted, the spokesman for the NWFP government, Mian Iftikhar, did not deny the statement of the military official that the provincial government had approved the military operation in Swat but said, “The forces only responded to the action of the militants.”

Brig Zia vowed to launch offensives against the militants in their strongholds including Peuchar and Biha to eliminate them from the valley. “We will purge every corner of the valley from the militants to establish peace,” he said.

Elaborating as to why the security forces launched the military action, he said after the peace deal between the NWFP government and Swat Taliban the forces did not carry out any action against the militants to fully honour the accord but the militants constantly violated the pact. “They torched girl schools, killed three officials of the ISI and picked up police and FC personnel from Deolai checkpost,” he said, adding they kept harping on the demand of army withdrawal from Swat. He said the army had not come to the valley on its own but on the request of NWFP government and now the operation would be taken to its ‘logical end’.

Regarding development projects, he said the army was supervising 1,143 development schemes in 50 union councils with an overall cost of Rs600 million and 58 per cent work has already been completed on them. He said the army would announce Ramazan and Eid packages in the valley.

Meanwhile, militants burnt down four more girl primary schools in Arq, Tango, Koh and Ingaro Dheri. Besides, they blew up a basic health unit in Kishwara and a forest office and bridge in Malam Jabba. The security forces continued pounding the positions of Taliban in Matta and Kabal from the FC camp Kanju and Frontier House Kabal. However, no loss of life was reported.

Curfew was relaxed in the district from 7am to 7pm. Great hustle and bustle was witnessed in bazaars in Matta teshil where people remained busy purchasing daily use commodities.

Exodus from Matta and Kabal continued on sixth day of the operation. The migrating residents complained that the prices of items had shot up and they faced shortage of food and medicines in the area due to curfew. The district administration has set up a relief camp at Balogram, which could house 1,000 people.
Source: The News

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