Peshawar, Jan 5: At least ten civilians have been killed as artillery shells fired by security forces missed militants' position and landed in a residential area in Pakistan's restive north-west valley of Swat.
In Tehsil Kabbal district, seven family members were killed after an artillery shell hit their house. In Kala Kalay area, artillery shells used against militants had mistakenly struck three civilians houses killing three persons and injuring a woman. Meanwhile, curfew relaxation has been announced in Swat from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Earlier, security forces on Thursday captured 52 pro-Taliban militants in the Swat Valley as militant commanders gave the government an ultimatum to pull out from the area or risk "all out war."
"Security forces have apprehended 52 suspected militants during search operations in the Shakardara area of the Swat Valley this morning," a statement by the Pakistan Army said.
The Swat district, previously a popular tourist destination, has been a battlefield since late October when President Pervez Musharraf sent government troops in to rein in heavily-armed followers of a radical Islamic cleric named Fazlullah.
Fazlullah incited an armed campaign to enforce Taliban-style Islamic law in the valley, taking over numerous villages and even some towns.
Army officials said they have killed more than 300 militants and cleared most of the area, but attacks on security forces continue, including numerous suicide bombings.
The Tehrik-I-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a newly-formed umbrella organization comprised of several groups of pro-Taliban fighters in Pakistan's tribal areas, said Thursday that it had extended an earlier December 15 deadline for the withdrawal of government troops from Swat until January 5.