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Islamic Militants Seize More Territory in Pakistan's Swat Valley


Fighters loyal to a radical Islamic cleric have seized more territory in Pakistan's Swat Valley, taking over police stations and checkpoints in several towns.

Paramilitary troops and police have surrendered their weapons to militants in the key tourist towns of Kalam, Madian and Bahrain.

Militants earlier seized the town of Matta and Khawazkhela, hoisting flags over captured police and military posts.

Witnesses report militants are patrolling towns under their control. Residents are staying indoors and schools and colleges remain shuttered.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule last week in part he said, to quell growing militancy by pro-Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.

The government sent 2,500 troops to the Swat Valley to counter the cleric, Mullah Fazlullah, who has opened an FM radio station calling for holy war against Islamabad.

Scenic Swat Valley is a top tourist destination -- known as Pakistan's "Switzerland."

The advance of militants into Swat marks a branching out from their traditional strongholds in tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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