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Taliban patrol roads, Govt asks citizens to leave Swat town

world Updated: May 05, 2009 13:48 IST

Armed Taliban fighters patrolled roads and clashed with security forces in Pakistan's restive Swat valley a day after declaring that the peace deal "stands dissolved", prompting authorities to ask citizens to vacate Mingora, the region's main city on Tuesday.

The Taliban have taken up positions across Swat and begun patrolling roads.

The militants also attacked security check posts in the wake of operations being launched against them in nearby Dir and Buner districts. Reports said police and security personnel were largely restricted to police stations and camps.

There were clashes between militants and security forces at several places, including Mingora, the main city in Swat, TV news channels reported.

Militants were seen planting improvised explosive devices on roads in Mingora, Aaj News channel reported. The Taliban also surrounded Mingora police station, the circuit house and a power station where 46 security personnel were deployed.

The Taliban made announcements asking the besieged security personnel at the power station to surrender, TV news channels reported.

The Taliban had yesterday said the peace deal they struck with the government "stands dissolved" as the Government continued with its offensive against them.

Khushal Khan, the head of the civil administration in Swat, issued a statement this afternoon asking citizens to vacate Mingora as soon as possible. He said curfew would be relaxed between 1.30 pm and 7 pm for this purpose.

Earlier, Khan had said curfew would be imposed for an indefinite period because of the fragile law and order situation in Swat. The intermediate school examinations too had been postponed, he said.

Even after the curfew was imposed, dozens of Taliban fighters continued patrolling the roads and attacking security check posts.

Reports said six civilians were killed when they were caught in an exchange of fire between security forces and militants. However, the reports could not be independently confirmed.

An army officer was killed and two security personnel were injured when militants ambushed a security forces convoy at Barikot in Swat yesterday. Another soldier was killed yesterday when militants raided a security check post at Shangla near Swat on Monday.

On Sunday, the Taliban had beheaded two soldiers who were in their captivity. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the soldiers were beheaded in retaliation for the killing of two militant commanders.

The military has accused the Taliban of violating a peace deal that was put in place in Swat in February by abducting and killing civilians and security personnel. It has said the security forces were showing restraint to honour the peace deal.

However, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said over the weekend that the peace deal stood "dissolved" in the wake of the operations against the militants in Buner and Dir. Over 200 militants have been killed in these operations.