35 militants killed, thousands of residents flee the distressed Swat

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Islamabad, Feb. 3 (ANI): The Pakistan military has said that at least 35 militants were killed overnight in a ground and air operation against insurgents in the Khawazakhela District of the Swat Valley.

"Thirty-five militants were killed in Khawazakhela overnight," the Pakistani military said in a short statement. Just two days after a similar attack in the region, the army attacked the militant hideouts in the northwestern Swat, The News reports.

Thousands of residents have fled the valley since the army intensified its operations against militants of religious extremist, Maulana Fazlullah. The cleric leader's supposed alliance with the Taliban and his campaign for the enforcement of sharia is held responsible for the bloodshed in Swat.

Fazlullah's men have killed a number of state employees and government supporters. The residents claim that government control is practically non-existent, as Taliban militants blow up schools, kill people and ban music and dancing.

In a massive exodus, an estimated 20,000 people have left their homes in districts of Swat battered by the military operations and taken refuge in camps set up by the authorities, local officials said.

The Pakistani government recently vowed to rein in the militants who have caused chaos in the Swat valley, which was a popular attraction until very recently among Western and Pakistani tourists. (ANI)

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