The Hindu : Security forces moved into areas in Swat Valley

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Security forces moved into areas in Swat Valley

October 28, 2007

Islamabad (PTI): Security forces backed by helicopter gunships on Sunday moved into areas in the Swat valley in northwestern Pakistan dominated by militant followers of a pro-Taliban cleric, sparking tensions that prompted hundreds of people to flee from the region.

Police and paramilitary troops set up security posts and bunkers protected by sandbags in Kabal, a small town near Maulana Fazlullah's stronghold at Imamdheri.

Security forces also exchanged fire with heavily armed militants at several places in Swat district.

Local residents said helicopter gunships bombed militant positions in mountains near Manglore, which were also targeted by paramilitary forces with mortars.

Several explosions were heard and columns of smoke were seen rising from bunkers set up by the militants, Dawn News channel reported.

Sporadic clashes between security forces and militants erupted on Sunday morning after the rebels carried out pre-dawn attacks on police and paramilitary personnel and reiterated their demand for the imposition of Islamic law in the region.

The militants who beheaded six security personnel and executed nine civilians on Friday in retaliation for an attack by troops on Fazlullah's madrassa at Imamdheri in the North West Frontier Province encircled Baghdheri police station and engaged security forces in an hour-long gun battle before they were beaten back.

The rebels also fought gun battles with troops in Kabal and Aligrama areas. Security forces shelled militant hideouts in this region after the militants began amassing for an attack.

There were also reports that four militants were arrested.