The Pakistani Army claimed 48 Taliban fighters, including 10 senior Swat leaders, were killed in a major battle in the settled district of the Northwest Frontier Province. Five Pakistani soldiers were also reported killed. The Taliban denied the government’s claims of heavy casualties, but confirmed one leader was killed in the fighting.
“We have inflicted heavy losses on the militants,” a military spokesman told GEO TV. “We have video footage showing bodies of the militants killed in the fighting.” The Pakistani military has inflated enemy casualties in the past while downplaying their losses.
Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman for Swat leader Mullah Fazlullah, denied the Taliban took heavy casualties. He did confirm that Maulvi Hussain Ali, a Taliban commander who is also known as Toor Mullah, was killed in the fighting.
The battle began after a force of 70 Taliban fighters surrounded and attacked a security outpost in the Matta subdistrict in Swat. The Pakistani military originally claimed 25 Taliban fighters were killed in the counterattack.
The Taliban have conducted a series of attack in the region at the same time at the attack on the security outpost. A military armored vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device, while three bridges were destroyed in Swat. A girls’ school was also bombed.
Just yesterday, the Taliban overran a police checkpoint and kidnapped 25 Pakistani policemen and members of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary.
The security situation in Swat has rapidly deteriorated after the government signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in May of this year. Fazlullah’s followers continue to attack government agencies and security forces in Swat despite signing the agreement, in which the Taliban agreed to recognize the writ of the government; halt attacks on security forces, barbershops, and schools; release captives; denounce suicide bombings; stop carrying weapons in public; and end the Taliban’s established parallel administration.
Instead the Taliban have pressed a series of attacks against the military and government officials. The Taliban have continued to attack schools, barbershops, markets, and music and video shops in an effort to enforce sharia, or Islamic law.
Two days ago, Fazlullah threatened to unleash a wave of suicide bombers if the government launched a military operation in Swat. On July 19, he led a meeting of 50 Taliban commanders in Swat to discuss strategy on attacking government installations and security forces.
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