`Taliban planned to take over Buner after faking withdrawal’

Islamabad, April 29 (Inditop) The Taliban had hatched a plan to take over Pakistan’s Buner district after faking a withdrawal, intelligence agencies learnt after intercepting a telephone conversation between Swat Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah and his commanders.

The recording of Fazlullah’s conversation indicated that the militants had no plan to move out of Buner and that they were gearing up for a showdown with security forces using mines, rockets and other weapons, the Dawn reported Wednesday.

The security forces launched a major operation in Buner Tuesday after intelligence agencies intercepted the telephone conversation between Fazlullah with his commanders which revealed their plan to take over the area after “faking a withdrawal”, the report said.

The operation led by the inspector general of Frontier Corps (FC) was being backed by army troops and air force jets, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general Maj Gen Athar Abbas said at a press briefing.

He said the operation in Lower Dir had been completed, around 70 militants had been killed and others flushed out of the area.

Abbas confirmed reports about the spread of Talibanisation in southern Punjab and said the situation was being closely monitored.

The North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad had Feb 16 signed a controversial peace accord to impose Sharia laws in Swat and six other districts of the province in return for the militants laying down their arms.

President Asif Ali Zardari baulked at ratifying the accord in the face of strident international pressure and tossed the deal to parliament, which approved it April 13. Zardari approved it the same night and the accord came into force two days later.

The Taliban, however, did not keep their end of the bargain and moved south from Swat to seize control of Buner district last week.

While some of them moved out after intervention from Sufi Mohammad, chief of Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), a Taliban-aligned group, the bulk of the militants had stayed back, prompting the security forces to act against them.