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7 civilians die as army targets militants

world Updated: Jan 05, 2008 13:09 IST
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At least seven 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, media reports said on Saturday.

The artillery rounds also damaged five houses in Kabal area of Swat, mayor Jafar Khan told Aaj news channel.

The scenic valley has been a battlefield since late October, when President Pervez Musharraf sent government troops in to rein in around 5,000 heavily armed followers of radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah.

Fazlullah, also called Mullah Radio, incited an armed campaign through a pirated FM radio station to enforce Taliban-style Islamic law in the region. His militia initially took over numerous villages and at least three main towns in the area, but was later forced to hideouts in the nearby mountains.

Army officials said in early December that they had killed more than 300 militants and cleared most of the area, but the insurgents continue to carry out guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings against the security forces.