Army chief: Tide turning against Taliban

June 5, 2009 at 2:12 AM

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, June 5 (UPI) -- Pakistani Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani says the monthslong military offensive in the Swat Valley in the country's northwest has blunted Taliban resistance there.

"The tide in Swat has decisively turned and major population centers and roads leading to the valley have been largely cleared of organized resistance by the Taliban," Kayani told the 119th Corps Commanders' Conference in Rawalpindi, Pakistan's Daily Times reported Friday.

Kayani said Pakistani troops were now pursuing Taliban's top leadership, adding "high value targets are being aggressive hunted," the newspaper reported.

He also warned that "isolated incidents of violence" would continue but they must have managed. The troops would remain in Swat to provide security to civilians.

An estimated 3 million people who fled their homes because of the fighting are now housed in refugee shelters. Aid agencies warn the situation could turn into a major humanitarian crisis if more help doesn't reach the camps.

The Press Trust of India quoted Kayani as saying a civilian administrative machinery in the region would allow the displaced persons to return to their homes.

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