Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 16:24 UK

Pakistan clashes take heavy toll

A supporter of Maulana Fazlullah, a pro-Taleban cleric, in Swat
The security situation in Swat has been deteriorating despite a peace deal

At least 94 militants, 14 soldiers and around 28 civilians have been killed in the last week in Pakistan's north-western valley of Swat, the army says.

The figures were given to the BBC by Maj Murad Khan of the Pakistani army.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Pakistan says that if accurate, the figures are likely to put renewed strain on the peace process across the north.

The army says it compiled the militant casualty figures by constantly intercepting their radio messages.


The military also says that it will soon launch an all-out offensive against militants in Swat, shattering a fragile deal between the two sides signed two months ago.

"More troops are coming and we will launch a major operation and we will go after the militants in their strongholds," Brig Zia Bodla told journalists in Mingora, the main town in Swat.

Map Swat

The army says that three members of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, were among the 14 soldiers killed in the last week.

There has no word from the militants in relation to the army's latest claims, but both sides routinely accuse each other of exaggerating each others' level of casualties.

Our correspondent says that the security situation in Swat has been steadily deteriorating despite the peace agreement between the government and pro-Taleban cleric Maulana Fazlullah.

The Swat valley has been the scene of an insurgency by his followers since 2007. They want to enforce his version of Islamic Sharia law in the region.

Peace accord

In other incidents last week, up to 25 security personnel were kidnapped, in addition to the unusually high level of casualties.

Fighting in Swat reached a climax in November, but violence continued in the valley until a new government in North West Frontier Province reached a peace accord in May.

The militants have accused the government of reneging on the terms of May's deal and have pledged to carry on fighting until all troops are withdrawn from the valley.

Pakistani police officers take position at a check post in Kabal, a troubled area of Swat valley in northern Pakistan
Pakistani forces have been fighting militants in Swat since last year

Mullah Fazlullah launched a campaign of violence last year, drawing the army into a conflict at a time when militants across north-west Pakistan had launched a wave of suicide attacks on security forces and leading politicians.

Troops backed by helicopter gunships and artillery targeted militant positions in parts of the district last week.

The Swat accord was part of the government's plan to end Islamist militancy through peace deals.

The strategy has led to a dramatic drop in suicide bombings but critics say it has also allowed the Taleban to regroup.

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