Taliban shaving off beard to escape: Military spokesman

By Iftikhar A. Khan
Friday, 15 May, 2009 | 05:16 PM PST |

We ask the people of Swat to identify militants and inform security personnel at the nearest checkpost: DG ISPR Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas.—Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The army has appealed to the people of Swat to help it to identify terrorists who are trying to flee in disguise because they are being encircled.

‘We have confirmed reports that these Taliban terrorists are shaving off their beard, trimming their hair and fleeing the area,’ military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told Dawn on Friday.

‘We ask the people of Swat to identify militants and inform security personnel at the nearest checkpost.’

He said the youths forcibly recruited by terrorists had started deserting them because troops were inflicting heavy casualties and the operation was gaining momentum.

He said that security forces were now closing in on Mingora and Matta from three directions. Militants’ bases in Peochar valley have been attacked and efforts are being made to target their leadership.

‘We expect to receive an overwhelming support from the people when the army will start liberating the area and provide them the desired level of comfort and security.’

Maj-Gen Abbas expressed the hope that the people would not only support security forces but also act against terrorists after having suffered immensely at the hands of the militants.

‘This is how we are going to take the operation ahead. Brutalities of the terrorists have now started coming out.’

Referring to ruthlessness of Matta Taliban Commander Ibne Amin, the military spokesman said that militants had beheaded prayer leader Zahid Khan and killed three women for providing water to troops. 

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