Swat valley said to be 95% clear

Other News Materials 21 June 2009 03:39 (UTC +04:00)

The Pakistani army has announced that operations against the insurgents entrenched in the troubled north-western Swat valley are almost over, Press TV reported.

Military sources say that the troops are going after the last pockets of the militants in the upper Swat region where an intense operation started on Friday night and continued into Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Sajjad Ghani, who is in control of efforts to clear the region, said that 95 percent of the volatile valley had been secured.

"As of now, there are only pockets of resistance left. The terrorists are on the run. Command and control is in disarray. They are unable to organize a coordinated response," said Ghani.

He conceded however that many top al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders had managed to escape the war zone.

The military claims to have killed nearly 1,700 militants since it launched a crackdown in the Swat valley and its adjoining districts two months ago.

Earlier on Friday, Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said that over two million people displaced by the fighting in the valley will be able to start returning home very soon.

This is while South Waziristan, in the lawless border region with Afghanistan, has been hit by air raids and military shelling in recent days.

Nearly 50 people including six soldiers died there on Saturday in a series of clashes between Islamabad troops and the heavily armed insurgents.

The US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has turned the restive tribal belt between the two neighbors into a scene of daily violence.