Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

US tobacco giants want lion's share of e-cigarette business

Read more

ENCORE!

Bold and bonkers: Kate Bush is back on stage

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Simon Serfaty, US foreign policy specialist

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'It's a War, Stupid!'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French PM calls on ECB to go further to help economy

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'I love the Socialists'

Read more

WEB NEWS

Ukraine: Web users call for international assistance

Read more

WEB NEWS

France: Fighting political corruption with transparency

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Armeli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao set for Man Utd loan on transfer deadline day

    Read more

  • Spain orders custody for parents of ill British boy

    Read more

  • Anti-government protesters storm Pakistan's state TV

    Read more

  • Putin calls for talks on 'statehood' for east Ukraine

    Read more

  • Poland marks 75 years since German invasion of WWII

    Read more

  • Israel appropriates large tracts of West Bank land

    Read more

  • Rescue efforts under way after French apartment block blast

    Read more

  • Web doc on French self-immolation protests takes top prize

    Read more

  • PSG trounce Saint-Etienne 5-0 with Ibrahimovic hat trick

    Read more

  • Tension rises in Hong Kong as Beijing rejects open elections

    Read more

  • French police stop 'teenage jihadist' from flying to Syria

    Read more

  • Kidnapped Yazidi women 'sold to Islamists' in Syria

    Read more

  • Confusion reigns after Lesotho 'coup'

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Military offensive pushes Taliban back to Mingora

Video by Stephan KLOSS

Text by Marc LELLIEVRE , Matthieu MABIN

Latest update : 2009-05-09

Taliban militants are retreating north to the Swat valley's main city, Mingora, in the wake of a military offensive, local observers have told Mathieu Mabin, France 24's correspondent in Islamabad.

Taliban forces appear to be retreating from their positions in the Swat valley after an intensified military operation was launched against them, local observers told France 24 correspondent Mathieu Mabin. They are heading north, towards the city of Mingora.

They appear to have been pushed out by an intensified land offensive launched against them by Pakistani forces. Local witnesses report seeing small, disorganized Taliban groups fleeing, weakened by a night of intense combat.

Local NGOs, which for now have not been able to access combat zones, are worried about a Taliban influx to Mingora. The city is currently sheltering the majority of people displaced from the Swat valley, who will once again find themselves under the line of fire if Taliban fighters mingle with them.

"Eliminate the militants and terrorists"

Earlier Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ordered soldiers leading the anti-Taliban offensive in the Swat valley to “eliminate the militants and terrorists”, terminating the peace deal reached with Taliban leaders last February. Authorities also imposed a long-term curfew on part of the territory to allow troops to deploy.

“To restore the honour and dignity of our nation, and to protect our people, armed forces are called on to eliminate the militants and terrorists,” the prime minister said in a televised speech on Thursday, blaming Taliban violence for breaking the peace deal.

His address came a day after President Asif Ali Zardari met in Washington with President Barack Obama of the United States and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan for talks on the conflict-ridden region.

Friday is the third day of the Pakistani military operations in the Swat valley.

Pakistani aircraft bombed Taliban positions in Swat on Friday. Helicopter gunships, fighters and troops were all involved in operations in Swat, and up to 12 militants were killed after as many as 55 were killed on Thursday, Major Nasir Khan, a military spokesman in Swat, told Reuters by telephone. Taliban fighters, however, continued targeting local police forces, besieging a police station in Matta, in southern Swat.

Fears of a humanitarian crisis

Civilians were also hit hard by the conflict: 35 people have been reported killed in the crossfire. The army has not confirmed civilian losses but has recognized there had been “collateral damage” to the fighting.

Swat valley residents continued to flee the region on Thursday, making the most of the temporary lifting of the 6 pm curfew.

NGOs now fear a wide scale humanitarian crisis. The International Committee of the Red Cross indicated in a press release that it is getting ready to supply up to 120,000 displaced persons with food and first aid.

Date created : 2009-05-08

COMMENT(S)