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Pak Taliban chief escapes to Afghanistan

world Updated: Nov 18, 2009 01:05 IST

Agencies
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The leader of the Taliban militants in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat district, Maulana Fazlullah, said on Tuesday that he had survived the military offensive and was now in Afghanistan.

Fazlullah told the BBC Urdu Service via cell phone from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan that his loyalists would soon “launch guerrilla raids against the army in Swat”.

Pakistani officials had previously claimed that Fazlullah was wounded and surrounded in Swat, a scenic valley located some 140 km north-west of Islamabad.

In another development, Pakistan Army claimed that its forces waging a tough ground offensive in the lawless South Waziristan tribal region have captured most of the towns and populated centres from the Taliban.

“The myth has been broken that this area will be the graveyard for the Army,” military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told foreign and local journalists who were flown to Sararogha, once a Taliban stronghold.

The Army claimed that Sararogha believed to be a bastion of Uzbek and Arab fighters had been captured after a five day fight in which 180 Taliban militants were killed.

Abbas said that the Army had captured most of the populated centres in South Waziristan and completely crippled Taliban supply lines.