PAKISTAN

The Mingora diaries: “the firing never stops”

The Pakistani Army launched a heavy-handed offensive against the Taliban militants squatting in Swat Valley yesterday, pushing thousands of residents to flee the area. One of our Observers however, remains just outside the city of Mingora, the region's main town.

Advertising

The Pakistani Army launched a heavy-handed offensive against the Taliban militants squatting in Swat Valley yesterday, pushing thousands of residents to flee the area. One of our Observers however, remains just outside the city of Mingora, the region's main town.

Mohammed Aziz (a pseudonym) lives in Saidu Sharif, on the outskirts of Mingora.

Tuesday night was a very horrible one. The Taliban attacked Saidu Sharif, where all the government headquarters are located. All night we heard gunshots and battle sounds. Frontier police were defending their positions, and in some parts there was man-to-man fighting. The army wasn't present — they're busy in Mingora centre.

The results of the long night came yesterday morning. The Taliban had captured the deputy inspector-general's office, the district mayor's office and various other government buildings. They'd also robbed three banks in the valley. One of them, a Muslim commercial bank, is not far from us.

Yesterday, was a little easier (apart from in central Mingora), but we're in a lot of trouble because there's neither water nor electricity. People, especially women, make their way to natural fountains to fetch water.

Yesterday evening, the army reached Saidu Sharif and they announced that the curfew would be tightened: we're not allowed out after 9 pm. So we stay at home. Everyone is terrified. About 60 medical students are stuck in their college with only biscuits to eat. I'm trying to sleep, but the firing from Mingora city never stops. I don't know when we'll get out of this hell, which was once heaven on earth."

Read Mohammed's previous entry.