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Hundreds Flee Northern Pakistan Amid Continuing Violence

  • VOA News

Hundreds of Pakistanis are fleeing villages in the North West Frontier Province, where clashes between government troops and militants loyal to a pro-Taliban religious leader raged for a third day on Sunday.

The Swat valley was the scene of a fierce battle Friday after authorities sent more than two thousand soldiers to counter growing militancy from cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who is trying to establish strict Islam law in the area.

There are no reports of deaths Sunday, but Pakistani officials said Saturday militants had executed 13 people, including seven civilians, apparently in response to the assault.

Provincial authorities said they found the beheaded bodies of three Pakistani soldiers and three police officers who were abducted Friday.

The authorities said the militants also killed seven civilians seized from a van traveling in the region Friday.

In an interview with VOA's Deewa Radio, North West Province Chief Minister Shamsul Mulk said the Pakistani government will not negotiate with the militants on their terms. Mulk said the ongoing military action in the Swat Valley is not an offensive operation, but rather an effort to restore order in the area.
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