News dot Com (Australia) : Army gunships pound northwest Pakistan

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Army gunships pound northwest Pakistan

Agence France-Presse | From correspondents in Mingora, Pakistan | October 29, 2007

TROOPS backed by gunship helicopters killed 10 militants loyal to a radical pro-Taliban cleric in northwest Pakistan in the third straight day of clashes, officials said.

Troops targeted hideouts of the militants in scenic Swat valley, the stronghold of religious leader Maulana Fazlullah, who has been driving a fierce campaign to introduce Islamic Sharia law.

“We have reports that 10 extremists were killed in the action,” chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said.

He accused the militants of terrorising and killing local villagers in the region, which used to be a popular tourist destination in the conservative North West Frontier Province.

”We needed to take tough action against a handful of these extremists who are trying to defy the government's writ and terrorise local people,” he said.

Hundreds of people were reported fleeing towns and some roads were closed in Swat where clashes between the paramilitary troops, backed up by police, and the militants loyal to Fazlullah started on Friday.