Worry over people believed trapped in Mingora
ISLAMABAD: On the second day of street battles in the main Swat city of Mingora, the Pakistan Army said it had wrested control of several places from the Taliban, including an infamous intersection where the militants used to string up the bodies of people they had killed.
A statement from military spokesman said 10 militants had been killed in the fighting in the North-West Frontier Province area of Swat over the last 24 hours, and 14 had been arrested. Three security forces personnel were killed and six wounded.
The troops are said to be clearing Mingora, the capital of Swat, street by street, searching buildings and houses for militants.
Among the intersections that the Army has cleared is Green Chowk, which had come to be known as “khooni chowk” (bloody square) or “zibakhana chowk” (slaughterhouse square). Residents of the city would wake up daily to find at least one body swinging from a post, with a note stuck on it threatening the same fate to whoever tried to remove it.
Troops had also entered Peochar village, a stronghold of the Swat Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, said the Army.
As the battle in Mingora raged, worries have risen for the estimated 20,000 people who are still believed to be trapped in the city. According to numbers released by the UNHCR on Friday, over 1.7 million people have already fled Swat, Buner and Dir. Over two lakh people registered in refugee camps, while the rest are staying with relatives and friends across the country or in schools and other communal buildings.
Meanwhile, NWFP Information Minister Mian Ifthikar Hussain announced on Sunday that up to 10,000 people had fled South Waziristan anticipating that the fighting would soon spread to the tribal area where the overall leader of the Pakistan Taliban Beithullah Mehsud is based.
Mr. Hussain said they had moved into the neighbouring NWFP districts of Dera Ismail Khan and Bannu.
There were also reports of people leaving the Orakzai tribal area where Pakistan Army gunships hit militant targets on Saturday.