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Fazlullah is alive and healthy, claims Taliban

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
July 23, 2009 19:34 IST
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The Pakistani Taliban on Thursday dismissed the military's claims that their chief in the Swat valley was 'critically' wounded, asserting that he was healthy and unhurt in the army operations in the restive region, where troops killed at least two militants in the latest fighting.

The Taliban's response came in the wake of the military's recent statement that they had 'credible' information about Maulana Fazlullah being injured in the offensive against militants in the region. Interior Minister Rehman Malik had also said that Fazlullah, a key aide of Taliban commander and Pakistan's most wanted terrorist Baitullah Mehsud, had been seriously injured.

Dismissing the government's claims, the Taliban today said Fazlullah, also known as 'Mullah Radio' for his fiery sermons from his illegal FM station, had never been wounded and vowed to continue their jihad for imposition of the strict Sharia law in the region.

Fazlullah is "alive, healthy and has never been wounded," Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told AFP. Meanwhile, two militants were killed and three others captured by security forces during a search operation near Dadrah in Swat, the military said in a statement.

Troops conducted search and clearance operations in Swat and other parts of the Malakand division to consolidate their positions. Eleven homes of militants were demolished and a machine gun, two rifles and 150 rounds of ammunition were seized during a search operation at Samai Kalle in Swat.

Troops also recovered over 1,000 rounds of machine gun ammunition and safety fuses during operations at Dardial, Maira Banda, Kamyari and Daku Banda. Separately, two personnel of the Khasadar militia were injured during an exchange of fire with Taliban fighters in the North Waziristan tribal region.

The militants also looted Rs 8 lakh from a group of Khasadar personnel. Violence has flared in parts of Swat over the past few days amidst the return of thousands of people displaced by the military operations against the Taliban. Sources said the renewed violence had affected the return of the displaced people to their homes.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad