A spokesman for the Taliban in Pakistan says the group's Swat Valley
leader, Maulana Fazlullah, is alive and denies reports that he was
Earlier this month, the Pakistani military said Fazlullah was wounded during an air strike in the northwest.
Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told news agencies Thursday that
Fazlullah is alive and unharmed. He also said all of the Taliban
leadership in Swat is well but in hiding.
Fazlullah is blamed for suicide bombings and attacks against government
and civilian targets. His followers have fought for nearly two years to
establish strict Islamic law (Sharia) in Swat Valley.
Pakistan has offered a reward of $600,000 for information leading to his capture.
Pakistani officials say more than 350,000 of the nearly two million
people displaced by the military operation in the northwest have
Pakistan's government started returning displaced people early last
week after saying it had cleared parts of the northwest of Taliban
Authorities said they suspended return efforts for a day Thursday to give workers a break.
Many of those displaced are living in host communities in makeshift or
crowded conditions, while others are in congested camps. U.N. agencies
say they are focusing on minimizing the effects of flooding and the
spread of disease in these areas during the country's monsoon season.
Pakistani armed forces launched what has become a three-month-long
offensive after militants violated a peace deal to impose strict
Islamic law in parts of Malakand district, including Swat Valley.
The army also is pounding militant targets in South Waziristan ahead of
a campaign to hunt down Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.