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Pakistan Says Troops Take Control of Mingora


Pakistan's military says it has largely wrested control of the main town in the Swat Valley away from the Taliban.

Military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said Saturday that government troops had taken "full control" of Mingora, although they are still facing "some resistance" from Taliban militants on the outskirts of the town.

The military and insurgents had been battling for control of Mingora for a week. Government security forces launched their offensive against the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan nearly a month ago.

Reports from the region say security forces have warned residents of the northwestern town of Charbagh to leave before a possible military operation there.

Pakistan is tightening security nationwide in the wake of a series of bombings Wednesday and Thursday in the cities of Lahore and Peshawar, which a Taliban commander called retaliation for the Swat offensive.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters he will hold a high-level meeting Sunday to discuss the investigation into the bombings, which killed around 44 people.

Police Saturday said they had detained 70 people in security sweeps through shantytowns outside the capital, Islamabad. Most of those rounded up were reported to be Afghan refugees

The Thursday blasts came hours after a senior Pakistani Taliban commander warned of more attacks in retaliation for the military offensive targeting the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

On Friday, Pakistan boosted the reward for hardline cleric Maulana Fazlullah from about $60,000 to $600,000.

Pakistani armed forces launched their Swat offensive about a month ago, after militants violated a peace deal and advanced to within 100 kilometers of Islamabad.

The military says some 1,200 militants and 90 soldiers have been killed since the fighting began. The number cannot be independently confirmed.

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