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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Taliban nearing Pakistan capital

Wed, 08 Apr 2009 18:22:42 GMT | PressTV

Taliban insurgents have captured Buner district, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad

The Taliban in Pakistan have moved deeper into areas near the capital Islamabad after they established their rule in the restive Swat valley.

About 20 vehicles carrying defiant militants entered Buner district, some 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad on Monday.

The local officials confirmed on Wednesday that the insurgents were moving into the town, clashing with police in some parts of the district.

Several people were reported to have been killed in the battles after the security forces backed by local militia tried to confront the militants in the region.

A recently signed deal between the authorities and the Taliban in the region has strengthened the militants' grip on the power.

Pakistani authorities in early March agreed to establish Taliban rule in the troubled restive Swat Valley. Following the agreement the militants set up an administration with courts, taxes, patrols and checkpoints in the troubled region.

The valley in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan is located 160 km (100 miles) from Islamabad.

Taliban claim that the recent violence in Pakistan has been in retaliation for the suspected US drone attacks and threatened more attacks should the aerial raids continue. The insurgents have repeatedly hinted that they would take their war to the capital in response.

The insurgents have been rapidly extending their influence throughout major cities over the past few months, posing a threat to Pakistan's sovereignty.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Interior Ministry Chief Rehman Malik have also warned that the al-Qaeda and Taliban linked militants want to take over the whole state of Pakistan

Despite the presence of more than 70,000 US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan, insurgency has escalated in the war-torn country spilling over to neighboring Pakistan.

Pakistan has been hit a wave of violence more than seven years after US-led forces invaded neighboring Afghanistan in 2001 to oust the Taliban, to destroy al-Qaeda, to capture Osama bin Laden and bring security to the volatile region.

Taliban have killed 1,700 Pakistanis in several suicide bombings across the violence-hit country since July 2007. Around 1,500 Pakistani troops have also lost their lives in fighting with the militants since 2002.

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