Accessibility links

Breaking News

Pakistani Taliban Agree 'Permanent Cease-Fire' In Swat

Thousands of Swat residents have fled the recent fighting
MINGORA, Pakistan (Reuters) -- Taliban fighters and Pakistani officials have agreed to a "permanent cease-fire" in the northwestern Swat Valley, a senior government official said.

Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio because he uses illegal FM radio to spread his message, was expected to announce the cease-fire later.

"They have made commitment that they will observe a permanent cease-fire and we'll do the same," Syed Mohammad Javed, the commissioner of Malakand, told reporters after meeting with elders in Swat.

Around 1,200 people have been killed and between 250,000 and 500,000 people have fled the valley, which lies within the Malakand division of Northwest Frontier Province.

Western governments, and many Pakistanis, have been alarmed by the government's offer to reinstate Islamic Shari'a law in Malakand if the Taliban agreed to peace.

They fear that a cease-fire could result in another sanctuary in Pakistan where Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants could move freely, and also worry that Taliban fighters elsewhere in the region will be encouraged by the government's move.

The cease-fire announcement came a day after Fazlullah met his father-in-law, Maulana Sufi Mohammad, a radical cleric freed by the government to negotiate peace.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told Reuters that Fazlullah would make an announcement on the radio shortly.

"I can't say what he would say but there would be good news for people of Swat," Khan said.