15 militants and 10 civilians killed in Swat valley

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Islamabad, Sep 3: Fifteen Taliban militants, including a leading commander, and 10 civilians were killed and 25 others injured in heavy bombardment carried out by jet fighters on rebel strongholds in the restive northwestern Swat valley despite ceasefire announcement by Pakistan's government.

The government had announced a unilateral ceasefire and a halt in the ongoing military operation in Swat and tribal regions during the month of Ramzan. According to local media reports, the aircraft blitzed Peuchar area four times on Tuesday, Sep 2 and targeted suspected Taliban hideouts. Militants led by pro-Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah, who is also known as Mullah Radio for running his own FM radio station and inciting people against the army, established their stronghold after they were flushed out from their former headquarters in Mamdheri area last year.

An army spokesman confirmed 15 militants, including a leading commander, were killed and scores of others injured in the air strikes in Swat, which was known as Switzerland of Pakistan until last year when militants launched activities in the region, triggering a military operation.

The spokesman said the target was the command and control system of the militants, which, he claimed, was also destroyed.

The first attack was carried out at 9 am which was followed by more deadly attacks. The assault also destroyed some houses and a mosque in the area, he added.

A Taliban spokesman said the attacks killed eight civilians and some cattle.

The military has stepped up operation against the militants to eliminate them and their hideouts, but the latter have constantly been carrying out their activities in various parts of the valley.

The militants yesterday killed a traffic cop Muhammad Siraj at Green Square of Mingora, the main town of Swat and escaped.

After the incident, the panicked traffic cops from all squares abandoned duty, which created the worst ever traffic jam in the city.

Muhammad Sher, brother of the slain cop and a school teacher, was killed a few days back. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack. Unknown people also killed school teacher Bakht Jehan in Koza Bandai area of Swat.

In Matta town, militants blew up more shops of the Pashtoon nationalist Awami National Party central leader and former federal minister Afzal Khan Lala.

The militants had attacked the leader's home twice and destroyed his market recently in Matta. The Taliban have asked the tenants of shops owned by him to leave the shops or else they would not be responsible for any loss.

UNI

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