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Swat militants burn down 5 girls schools

MINGORA, Aug 3: Five girls schools and a government office were set ablaze in Swat while security forces claimed on Sunday to have killed 15 militants during an operation in the Sijband area.

In the same area, two vehicles of a police mobile squad hit explosives, but no casualty was reported.

The forces are carrying out a house-to-house search in Runial and Sijband localities of Matta tehsil and defusing landmines. Militants have fired rockets on troops and killed a soldier.

Maj Farooq, in-charge of the media cell in Mingora, told journalists that Hawaldar Khalil was killed in an attack on a security post in Kalakot on Saturday night.

Fierce clashes were reported in Charbagh after supporters of militant cleric Maulana Fazlullah attacked security forces with heavy weapons.

Troops intensified shelling from their bases in Kanju and Frontier House in Kabal on militant positions in Matta, Charbagh and Khwazakhela.

Intensifying their campaign against educational institutions, the militants torched the five schools in Gali Bagh, Taligram and Malam Jaba. The office of the agriculture development project was also torched.

Authorities said that 48 girls’ schools had been burned down or blown up over the past year and many schools had been closed.

The troubled areas of Kabal and Matta, meanwhile, remained under curfew, although it was relaxed from noon to 7pm in view of the large-scale exodus from the violence-hit localities.

Anwarullah Khan adds from Bajaur: A spokesman for Tahrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s chief Baitullah Mehsud threatened a ‘tit-for-tat response’ if the government launched an operation in the tribal region.

The spokesman, Maulvi Umar, told Dawn that the Taliban believed in peace but they would ‘retaliate with full force’ if the government ‘imposed a war’ on them.

He said that while the government was making offers for talks, the army was preparing for an operation.

He threatened suicide attacks if the operation was launched.
Source: Dawn