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Pakistan police stations seized
Saturday, November 3, 2007 : Swat Valley police stations taken over by pro-Taliban fighters as clashes continue.
Fighting between para-military forces and pro-Taliban supporters has intensified in Swat valley [AFP]
Pro-Taliban fighters say they have taken control of two police stations in Pakistan's Swat Valley and demanded the withdrawal of government troops from the area. Hours after one police station was taken over, fighters took control of a second after telling 60 officers to leave, Mian Rasool Shah, a Taliban commander in the area, said.
Fighting between para-military forces and pro-Taliban supporters has intensified in the northwest region since last week when armed fighters launched a series of attacks on troops. Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder said the police stations were in districts where around half a million people lived.
He said that Swat, a valley close to Pakistan's lawless tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, has seen a surge in violence since Maulana Fazlullah, a cleric, launched a Taliban-style "Islamisation" campaign in July.Read More
MINGORA, Pakistan — The leader of a pro-Taliban group in the northwestern Pakistani region of Swat said Friday, November 2, that he was ready to engage in conditional peace talks with the Pakistani government to end days of fighting
"Maulana Fazlullah has said he is ready to hold talks with the government," Mohammad Amin, a local tribal politician, told Reuters.
The leader of the outlawed Tahreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM) set three conditions for any peace talks with the government.
This includes withdrawal of more than 2,000 security forces from Swat, enforcement of Islamic Sharia`h and dropping charges against his followers, said Amin.
A delegation of scholars and local politicians met with Fazlullah on Friday to try to end the escalating crisis.
Government spokesmen were not available for comment.
Scores of people have been killed since last week when fierce fighting erupted between security forces and militants loyal to Fazlullah in Swat in North West Frontier Province.
The fighting, which forced thousands of people to flee their homes, followed the killing of at least 21 people, including Pakistani soldiers, in a suicide attack at an army convoy in the area.
The attack was an apparent reaction to the arrival of more than 2,000 security troops in the area last week.
Swat has seen a surge in militant activity since Fazlullah launched an FM radio station and urged war against the army after government troops stormed the Al-Qaeda-linked Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital Islamabad in July.
Red Mosque deputy leader Abdul Rasheed Ghazi along with hundreds of students, including women and children, died in an eight-day military operation ordered by President Pervez Musharraf.
The peace endevour comes as nine people were killed and scores wounded in a missile attack in Pakistan's troubled tribal belt.