Peshawar, Nov 13: The Pakistan Army has been deployed in the Swat Valley to crush a lingering insurgency. "Yes, the army has taken over command in Swat from Monday and will lead security forces to eliminate militancy," Military Spokesman, Major-General Waheed Arshad, said.
Asked if paramilitary forces had failed to bring the situation
under control, he said the forces had taken action, but the
situation had not improved.
Major-General Arshad said the army was deployed at the request of the NWFP Government.
Security forces have arrested a top militant accused of harbouring al Qaeda insurgents, beheading troops and supplying arms to Maulana Fazlullah, officials said.
"He is under interrogation. The man identified himself as Parwant and says he is local," Major-General Arshad said, adding the man"s real name was not known.
Locals said the clashes have erupted in the Valley after two helicopters came under fire in Matta. They confirmed that militants had captured anti-aircraft guns from the security forces.
They said the troops and law-enforcement personnel had not made ground advance on areas held by militants. Three helicopters carried out intense shelling on suspected militants" positions in Pir Kali, Sambet Chowk and Sairi.
Sources said that one militant was killed and five were injured in the attack. A civilian was killed when a mortar shell reportedly fired from a FC camp in Kabal hit his shop at Koza Bandae.
Fazlullah"s spokesman, Maulana Sirajuddin, said that three Taliban had suffered minor injuries. Militants say they will not surrender or end their movement without achieving their objectives.
"We will lay down arms when the government enforces Sharia in Swat; otherwise we"re ready to die," Maulana Mohammad Alam, the commander of the militants in Khwazakhela, said.
On October 24, the NWFP government had dispatched hundreds of paramilitary forces and police to establish the state"s writ in parts of the Swat valley under control of Fazlullah.
Officials believe that Fazlullah, who has set up his own government and courts, has some 4, 000 armed supporters in Swat, the Dawn reported.
At present, six of the eight sub-districts of Swat are under the control of militants. Educational institutions in the area are closed and law-enforcement personnel have abandoned government installations.