Curfew eased in Miranshah
Authorities in Miranshah further eased an eight-day-old curfew on Sunday after soldiers killed dozens of militants in an operation last week. The military said that security forces killed up to 30 pro-Taliban foreign militants and their local supporters in a village about 10 kilometres west of Miranshah on Friday night. The curfew was relaxed from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Shops and markets remained open during the day but many residents were seen leaving their homes in private cars and pickups piled with household belongings, witnesses said.
Sporadic small arms fire, apparently from security forces, was heard on Saturday night from outside the town but there were no reports of any more casualties. Three rockets fired by militants landed in an army base in Bannu, about 50 kilometres to the west overnight, but these caused no casualties either, officials said.
On Sunday, officials circulated notices to residents warning that they could be arrested, fined or have their houses bulldozed if they assisted militants or refused to give them up.Local people have faced threats from militants as well as the authorities. The bullet-riddled body of a man was found on Sunday near Mir Ali with a note attached that read: He was an enemy of Islam and a supporter of the government. This will be the fate of anybody who is against Islam and supports the government. A vehicle driven by an administration official was also snatched in nearby Laddah village by the suspected militants, officials said. The official was unharmed.
Nevertheless, officials said that the situation was improving and announced a seven-hour break in a curfew imposed for the past eight days. The situation is now returning to normal, local administrator Zaheerul Islam said. As soon as the situation improves further, we will do away completely with the day-time curfew, but we will continue the night curfew for some time. The curfew was initially round the clock, but there was a five-hour break on Friday and for six hours on Saturday.
Posted by: Fred 2006-03-13