Residents of Pakistan's Swat Valley say hundreds of pro-Taliban
militants surrounded a security post and abducted at least 25 police
officers on Tuesday. Earlier, militants in the region claimed they
killed three intelligence agents. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports, the
clashes threaten Swat's fragile two-month-old peace accord.
residents said hundreds of militants surrounded the security post near
the town of Matta on Tuesday, and threatened to kill the police
officers inside unless they surrendered. The officers put down their
weapons and were forced to march out of town to an undisclosed location.
militants claimed responsibility for killing three intelligence agents
in Swat on Monday. A spokesman for the group, led by local radical
cleric Maulana Fazlullah, said the killings were retribution for the
alleged torture of militants in the custody of intelligence agencies.
week Fazlullah's top commanders held a high profile meeting in Swat and
threatened to end the peace deal that was struck with the provincial
government in late May. The militants said the provincial government
has too little power and has been unable to stop Pakistani security
forces from continuing to arrest fighters in the region. The group said
it wants to negotiate a new agreement with the federal government.
Tuesday, a provincial government representative told VOA that, despite
the violence, the existing peace agreement remains intact. Wajid Ali
Khan, who helped broker the agreement, urged government officials and
Taliban fighters to uphold the deal.
Khan says this agreement
came after a long debate, and it remains in effect. He says he hopes
that both sides can work to implement the accord before what he called
a major disaster happens.
The Swat peace agreement is one of
several cease-fire deals brokered by government officials and tribal
elders with various militant groups in the country. Nearly all of the
groups are located in Pakistan's volatile northwest, where they have
banded together into a loose network, led by Baitullah Mehsud, a
Taliban commander in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region.
peace accords have been blamed by Afghan and Western military officials
for contributing to a spike in violence in neighboring Afghanistan.