Pak army enters Mingora; wrests control of Swat airport | world | Hindustan Times
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Pak army enters Mingora; wrests control of Swat airport

world Updated: May 26, 2009 23:14 IST
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Pakistan's military on Tuesday said it was facing "resistance" from militants as it battled to regain full control of Taliban-infested Swat Valley, including its main town Mingora, in fierce street-fighting that left 29 insurgents dead.

Pushing hard and deeper into the Swat, the troops claimed to have wrested 70 per cent of Mingora, including its airport, after fierce battle with militants in two main towns in the valley as the "military operation is progressing well".

The army also launched a simultaneous pincer movement on Kabel town, located west of Mingora, where many Talibans from the district capital were fleeing to and were almost on the town's periphery.

"We have reports of resistance (in Mingora and Kabbal areas)," Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told a news conference.

Abbas said that troops have regained control of the main squares in Mingora and limited the routes for the militants to flee.

He said that no time frame to eliminate or expel the militants be given but the forces will succeed to clear the valley from the militants.

"It is not a traditional operation to retake buildings but the militants are to be killed and pushed to ensure that they could not come back," he said.

The military spokesman said that street fight is going-on in Mingora and house-to-house search is in progress in most of the captured areas of the city.

The hardcore militants are fighting in Mingora and new recruits are deserting the Taliban, he said, "in (the) last 24 hours, 29 miscreants-terrorists were killed, while 14 were apprehended in various areas of Swat."

Abbas said the militants had taken control of explosives when they occupied emerald mines and they are using the explosives against the security forces. "Six soldiers embraced shahadat (martyrdom) and 11 were injured," he said.

Meanwhile, helicopter gunships also attacked Taliban positions in the South Waziristan region on the Afghanistan border, killing six militants, as media reports said troops were massing up for what could be a push into the terrorists- infested region, long suspected to be the hideouts of the al-Qaeda top brass, including Osama bin Laden.

South Waziristan is the headquarters of Pakistani Taliban leaders Baitullah Mehsud. The army sent in the gunships after militants fired rockets at a military base in Sibaltoi town, 60-km east of Waziristan's main town Wana.

As the army offensive in Swat entered the fifth day on Tuesday, Pakistan military said it would not halt its drive against the Taliban despite a pledge by the militants to stop attacking security forces so as not to harm the civilians.

"They (Taliban) are issuing statements due to forces advancement," Abbas said, adding "routes for the miscreants to flee are limited. They are in a mess. They are on run."