VOA : Pakistani Troops, Pro-Taliban Militants Clash in Swat Valley

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pakistani Troops, Pro-Taliban Militants Clash in Swat Valley

By VOA News | October 26, 2007

Authorities in northwestern Pakistan say government troops clashed with pro-Taliban militants in the remote Swat valley Friday.

Officials say the firefight erupted when troops surrounded the hideout of a militant cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who in recent days has been urging his supporters to attack the Pakistani army and other security forces.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

On Thursday, at least 30 people, mostly soldiers, were killed in a roadside bomb blast that targeted a military truck near the region's main town of Mingora.

Tensions in the Swat valley have been high since the Pakistani military deployed more than two-thousand troops in the region this week to combat a rise in violence by pro-Taliban militants.

The valley in the conservative North West Frontier Province is a stronghold of the banned radical group, Tehrik Nifaz-e-Sharia Mohammed, which has close ties to Afghanistan's Taliban militants.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf banned the group and jailed its founder Sufi Mohammad in 2002, after it sent thousands of volunteers to Afghanistan to fight U.S.-led forces that ousted Taliban rulers.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.