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Terrorism & Security

Taliban seize police station in Pakistan's Swat Valley

Thirty officers were later freed. A Pentagon report is expected to urge a harder line against militants.

By David Montero / February 4, 2009

As a stunning attack in Pakistan's Swat Valley highlights growing militancy along the Afghan border, a new Pentagon report calls for President Barack Obama to turn up the heat on Taliban bases in Pakistan.

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In Swat Valley yesterday, thousands of Taliban fighters were said to have overrun a police station in Shamozai, south of the valley's main city, Mingora, reports Agence France-Presse.

Taliban fighters kidnapped 30 Pakistani policemen after a day-long siege and fierce battles in the northwest Swat valley, regional police commander Dilawar Khan said Wednesday.
Thousands of Taliban fighters laid siege to the police station in the area of Shamozai on Tuesday. The army was mobilised to rescue the police and break the circle of Taliban rebels surrounding the building, security officials said.

While security officials took credit for rescuing the captives, Reuters reported that the Taliban released their captives after extracting promises that the policemen would quit their jobs.

If the numbers are accurate, the Taliban force would be one of the single largest ever assembled in the valley, signaling an alarming uptick in violence.

Heightening concern, the Taliban's stringent enforcements – bans on music and dancing, and edicts issued against women traveling alone – have now spread to Orakzai Agency, one of Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas and an area of high strategic value, reports The Daily Times.

Orakzai, which borders Kurram in the west and Hangu district in the east, provides a means to the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to expand its influence to Peshawar through Khyber Agency. The organisation has already made its presence in the region known by attacking truck terminals for Afghanistan-bound supplies for NATO and US forces. Despite government attempts to block their infiltration, the Taliban recently celebrated their "complete control" over the region by inviting a group of journalists to the area in a show of power.

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