Islamic Militants Capture 3rd Pakistani Town- Hoist Flag
Militants seized a town in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday and hoisted their flags over buildings after security forces surrendered, AFP quoted police and residents as saying.
The town of Madyan was the third to come under the effective control of followers of firebrand religious leader Maulana Fazlullah, who is demanding Sharia law in the erstwhile tourist resort of Swat.
“They seized Madyan town today, they have already overrun Matta and Khawazakhela towns” in their earlier push, a police official said on condition of anonymity.
Police surrender: Police gave up their weapons, vehicles and control of local police stations, the officer and local residents said. “The militants are continuing their advance,” the police official said.
At least 37 police and paramilitary soldiers left the main police station without a fight after militants surrounded the town and assured them that they would not be harmed, residents said.
Helicopter gunships: A Swat police official said authorities had sent helicopter gunships to target militant positions in the area.
Residents said the militants were in complete control of Madyan and were patrolling the town, AFP reported. Witnesses said Fazlullah’s supporters hoisted their flags over government buildings and guarded important sites, such as banks and bazaars.
Bill Roggio reported this on the radical leader Maulana Fazlullah:
Maulana Fazlullah is the son-in-law of Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the jailed leader of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM – the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law). He is said to have “close links with the administration of the Lal Masjid,” according to Sharif Virk, the chief of police for the Northwest Frontier Province. Fazlullah has successfully organized anti-polio and anti-girls schools campaigns throughout the region. The Swat region is believed to be a haven and training ground for the Pakistani Taliban.