MINGORA/TIMERGARA, May 15: Thousands of people fled the militant-infested areas of Swat following a curfew relaxation on Friday.
Most of the people leaving their homes in Mingora, Kanju, Hazara, Dheri, Aligrama and Gul Jaba turned up at camps in Mardan, Swabi, Charsadda, Nowshera and Peshawar. They crossed into Balogram on foot because vehicles were not allowed to enter the area for security reasons. From Balogram they were transported into 150 vehicles arranged by the army and the Al-Khidmat Foundation of Jamaat-i-Islami.
Others managed to hitch a lift on private vehicles. A man from Qamber told Dawn that the Taliban had planted landmines and erected barricades on the main GT Road to stop troops from entering Mingora and were preparing for a final showdown. He said that about 40 to 50 militants armed with sophisticated weapons were from his village.
Another man said that local people could no longer tolerate the Taliban militants. “Our people, our children and our property are at risk. They impose their decisions and nobody can dare resist them.”
A man from Gogdara said: “We are ready to face hardship and want these bands of militants crushed.” He said that houses were being destroyed by the Taliban, not by security forces.
A man from Mingora said that several bodies of militants were lying along the bank of a nullah in his town. He said the Taliban had divided Mingora into four units -- Green Chowk, Suhrab Chowk, Taj chowk and Nishat Chowk -- and each unit was under a commander.
He said the militants believed that they would defeat security forces.
Meanwhile, 12 militants and five security personnel were reported killed and several others injured in clashes in Darro Kalley area of Maidan late on Thursday night.
On Friday, security forces set up checkposts in Balogram and Odigram.
Militants beheaded a man named Anwar. His body was found in the village of Undisa in Maidan on Friday. A note found with the body read: “The man was spying for America and security forces. All those found involved in spying would meet the same fate.”
Dir Lower Nazim Ahmed Hassan Khan has called a meeting of religious and political parties in Timergara to discuss issues relating to the military operation, IDPs, curfew and power suspension in the district.
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