Mingora: 2 security personnel killed, 30 kidnapped
MINGORA: Two security personnel were killed and 30 Frontier Constabulary and police personnel were captured by militants in Kabal area of Swat on Tuesday. The new incidents of violence took place a day after militants loyal to Maulana Fazlullah had killed three personnel of an intelligence agency on the Matta-Ronyal road. The new acts of violence have dealt a serious blow to the May 21 Swat peace agreement between the ANP-led provincial government and militants.
According to officials, the militants attacked a joint military-police post in Kabal, some 35 kilometers west of Mingora, and captured 30 security men—15 FC personnel and 15 policemen. Soon after the kidnapping, the security forces launched a search operation in Ronyal area.
Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told Dawn that 33 security personnel had been taken hostage. “They were asked to surrender or face death and they gave up,” he said. Two Taliban were injured during the clashes, he added.
Two security personnel, identified as Capt. Waqas and Subedar Ikram, were killed and 13 others were injured in an exchange of fire with militants in Akhun Kalley after the attack on the checkpost. The security forces, backed by gunship helicopters and heavy artillery, attacked militants’ hideouts during a search operation in Ronyal, Tehsil Matta.
A curfew was imposed during the search operation. The security forces blew up two shops owned by Ali Bakht, a member of the Taliban peace committee which had held talks with the NWFP government, and his brother in Deolai, Kabal. Troops also detained six suspected Taliban during the search operation. Two bombs planted in the area were defused by the forces.
A girl was killed and three people were injured when a mortar shell hit the house of Shah Hussain. The militants torched a health office and manhandled the anti-polio campaign staff in Nawan Kalley and exchanged fire with police.
Swat DCO Shaukat Khan said the anti-polio drive had been suspended in Swat due to the law and order situation.
The militants also set on fire a girls’ school in Chamtali area in Khwazakhela. Military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said security forces had captured six militants and killed two others during the search operation.
He said that two militants suspected of involvement in the Monday ambush that left three operatives of an intelligence agency dead had also been captured. NWFP Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain acknowledged that the militants had captured security personnel but insisted that the government would stick to the peace agreement.
“We are following a considered strategy. We want the people to be on our side and they are seeing who is violating the agreement and who is abiding by it,” Mr Hussain said.
“The agreement clearly states that the government reserved the right to react if the other side does not stick to its word. We will have to react if the other side continues to burn down schools, kill law-enforcement personnel and take hostages,” he said.
The minister denied reports that the government was contemplating a large-scale operation in the once-tourist hotspot. Meanwhile, a handout issued in Peshawar condemned the kidnapping of security personnel. According to the handout, Governor Owais Ghani and Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti discussed the law and order situation and expressed concern over the incidents of violence. They directed security forces to take effective steps to establish the writ of the government.