Friday, November 2, 2007

Militancy spirals as court keeps Musharraf in limbo

by Simon Cameron-Moore from Reuters

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is going through a period of intense uncertainty in the run up to a vote due in January that is supposed to transform the country into a civilian-led democracy. "With reference to extremists and terrorists, it's a bad situation," said Javed Iqbal Cheema, head of the Interior Ministry's Crisis Management Cell ... Troops killed up to 70 militants as fighting flared in Swat valley in North West Frontier Province, where more than 180 people have died since last week as the military battles a pro-Taliban movement seeking to impose strict Islamic law. The latest violence coincided with a visit by Admiral William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, for talks with the Pakistani military leadership. Nearly 800 people have been killed in militant-linked violence and there have been more than 22 suicide attacks in the four months since Pakistani commandos stormed the Red Mosque in the capital, Islamabad, to crush a Taliban-style movement. Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, in audio and video tapes released in September, exhorted followers to wage war on Musharraf and Pakistan's security forces.

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