Civilians fleeing Pakistani town held by religious weirdo

Reuters:

Thousands of Pakistanis are fleeing a northwestern town and outlying villages because they fear a showdown between the security forces and an Islamist militant Taliban-style movement, residents said.

The Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province has been the scene of fierce fighting between security forces and followers of a radical Muslim cleric on Friday after authorities sent more than 2,000 soldiers to counter growing militancy.

Ten militants were killed in clashes on Sunday by troops backed by helicopter gunships, army spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said.

At least 17 paramilitary soldiers and four civilians were killed in a suspected suicide attack near the valley's main town of Mingora on Thursday.

The militants killed seven civilians and decapitated three soldiers and three policemen they had taken hostage in the nearby town of Matta on Friday.

"Troops have their own mortars and have been firing at those militants," Arshad said. "These are the same people who beheaded those civilians and dragged their bodies in the bazaar."

"Until such time as these people are evicted from the area and peace is restored and innocent people are given full security, I think this is going to continue."

...
Judging from the casualties, it appears the people fear the religious weirdos more than the army. It is good to know that the Pakistani troops have their won mortars and are shooting back. Otherwise, this might look like a weirdo rout.

Seriously, Pakistan needs to exert sovereignty over this area and protect the people from the weirdos. Eventually they may find bin Laden, if they get after it.

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