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'11 bodies found in Swat revenge attacks'

world Updated: Aug 25, 2009 13:50 IST

The bullet-riddled bodies of 11 more suspected Taliban rebels believed killed by avenging residents have been found in Pakistan's northwest Swat valley, officials said on Tuesday.

Pakistan's military claims to have cleared Swat of Islamist extremists in an offensive launched earlier this year after militants extended their grip into the valley, terrorising residents with public beheadings and other violence.

"The bodies of 11 people, mostly militants, have been found in three different areas of Swat on Monday," a senior security official told AFP. "The bodies had bullet wounds and some had signs of violence."

A military official in the area said that since July, almost 200 bodies of militants and some civilians had turned up in different parts of Swat valley.

"We have received information that residents fearing a Taliban comeback were killing them," said the military official, who refused to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Atif-ur-Rehman, administrative chief of Swat district, said that 192 bodies had been found, but gave no further details.

Swat slipped out of government control after radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah mounted a violent campaign in which his followers beheaded opponents, burnt schools and fought government troops to enforce sharia law.

The Pakistani army launched an offensive in late April to dislodge Taliban guerrillas from the districts of Buner, Lower Dir and Swat after rebels flouted a peace deal and marched further south towards the capital, Islamabad.

Pakistan says more than 1,930 militants and over 170 security personnel have been killed in the offensive since late April, but the death tolls are impossible to verify independently.