Thursday, November 8, 2007

Militants seize third town

from Agence France-Presse (France)

The town of Madyan was the third to come under the effective control of followers of a firebrand religious leader, Maulana Fazlullah, who is demanding Islamic sharia law in the one-time tourist resort of Swat. "They seized Madyan town today, they have already overrun Matta and Khawazakhela towns" in their earlier push, a police official told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity. At least 37 police and paramilitary soldiers left the main police station without a fight after militants surrounded the town and assured them that they would not be harmed, residents said. A militant source said police turned over 35 Kalashnikov assault rifles. The militants held negotiations with police and security forces, which agreed to withdraw, police and witnesses said. Police also retreated from two more police posts in nearby villages. The government moved 2,500 troops into Swat last week to counter Fazlullah. Officially, more than 150 militants have been killed in clashes with security forces in the past week.

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