PAKISTAN

“The Taliban say they have an army of 2,000 suicide bombers”

Residents across various cities and villages in Pakistan's Swat valley are evacuating their homes ahead of a possible military operation to rout the Taliban militia in the region. Read more...

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Residents across various cities and villages in Pakistan's Swat valley are evacuating their homes ahead of an imminent military operation to rout the Taliban militia in the region. The Taliban has been slowly gaining control of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Provinces. The Swat valley, once a popular tourist destination, has now become a Taliban stronghold. Our Observer in the Swat valley’s main town of Mingora says preparations are underway for a full-blown operation.

Mohammed Aziz is a resident of Saidu Sharif, a town on the outskirts of Mingora, one of the main cities in the SWAT valley. 

It has been raining in Mingora for the past three days, due to which military operations have been delayed. The Pakistani army and paramilitary forces are preparing for an operation against the Taliban.

The Taliban attacked Mingora's police station and  bombed the building even though a curfew was imposed. We also heard loud sounds of gunfire.

Taliban commander Maulana Shah Dooran has been constantly reminding people via Taliban FM radio that they are winning the battle against the Pakistani security forces. They say they have an army of 2,000 suicide bombers and that the Pakistani army can't win.

Taliban FM operates 24 hours a day, except during prayer time. Every evening they announce new orders for residents between 8 and 10 pm.

There are Taliban check posts everywhere in the Swat valley. They've taken over the roofs of all the big hotels in the city.

Civilian have also been killed in today's fighting. (It's unclear whether the people were killed by the Taliban or the army). At least three people died after they violated the curfew. The army has asked residents to vacate their homes before 7 pm this evening. Many people are going to neighbouring cities.

The government has set up a refugee camp in Dargai Malakand. There is shortage of food and medicines in the area as all shops, markets and pharmacies are closed.

Residents here are terrified and expect a horrible battle between the two sides if the operation starts.