Swat Taliban Fighters Withdraw From Buner–After Deadly Clashes

April 24, 2009

(ChattahBox)—After deadly clashes this week between Taliban fighters and platoons of government paramilitary forces, the Taliban have agreed to leave the Buner region, according to Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan. Local clerics and government officials have been meeting with a delegation of Taliban leaders since Wednesday to force the militants from a region only 62 miles from the Pakistani Capital of Islamabad, after U.S. Secretary Clinton called the Taliban’s presence in Buner, a “mortal threat” to the world.

Pressured by the U.S. and other world leaders to take action against the advancing Taliban fighters, the Pakistani government finally sent in six platoons from the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary to the Buner region. On Thursday, Taliban fighters attacked one of the platoon conveys, killing a police officer. The militants continued their defiance by attacking a NATO truck terminal in Peshawar setting fire to vehicles, resulting in an inferno of smoke and explosions terrifying residents of the once peaceful region.

After contentious meetings between local tribal leaders and cleric, Sufi Muhammad some concessions were extracted from the Taliban, but as of Wednesday they still refused to leave the Buner region. Finally, after a meeting between Taliban commander, Maulana Fazlullah and the commissioner of Malakand, the commander gave the order to his fighters to leave. Government officials say the Taliban will be out of the area by Saturday.

This latest clash between the Pakistani government and militant Taliban fighters comes after nearly two years of fighting with the determined Islamic extremists, as they took hold of the Swat valley region of Pakistan.

The Pakistani government, unable to route the militants out militarily, just last week, signed a peace deal with the militants, allowing them to impose Sharia law in the Swat region, if they put down their arms and allowed local police to resume their control.

The first test this week of the peace deal was a dismal failure, as emboldened and heavily armed Taliban fighters advanced beyond Swat to the Buner region, just 62 miles from the Pakistani capital, which is a nuclear-armed nation. The Taliban fighters’ goal is to impose Islamic law on the entire country.

Political analysts now say after this latest clash, the Pakistan government realizes it can’t allow Taliban leaders to advance beyond Swat, or they will be soon brandishing their rifles in downtown Islamabad.

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