Islamabad: Pakistani security forces are
closing in on Maulana Fazlullah, the commander of the Taliban
in Swat, and he will not be able to escape, Interior Minister
Rehman Malik said on Sunday.
"Fazlullah has definitely been surrounded by (our
troops) and he will not be able to escape," Malik told
reporters after meeting a group of ruling Pakistan People`s
Party leaders from the tribal areas.
A number of militant leaders from the north-western
Swat valley had already been arrested and it was a matter of
time before the security forces caught up with Fazlullah,
Malik also issued a warning to banned Lashkar-e-Islam
chief Mangal Bagh Afridi, saying he would meet the same fate
as dozens of his fighters who had been killed or captured by
security forces. The Lashkar-e-Islam is active in the Khyber
"I am giving a warning to Mangal Bagh – you will
suffer the same fate as your companions. Because of your
criminal activities and attacks, we are closing in and
tightening the noose around you," he said.
Reports from Swat suggested that troops have tightened
the net around Fazlullah and his close aides following the
recent arrest of Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan, who has
provided information about hideouts used by the militant
The people are opposed to Afridi because his militants
are carrying out suicide bombings and attacks on the security
forces, Malik said.
Swat has been abuzz with speculation since last night
that security forces are close to capturing Fazlullah, who has
been on the run since the army launched operations against the
Taliban in the region in May.
There were also reports that Muslim Khan might have
been arrested by security forces as part of a secret deal for
his "negotiated surrender".
Khan reportedly resorted to the move to ensure that
his kin were not subjected to reprisals by Fazlullah.
Pakistani security forces have also killed over 100
Lashkar-e-Islam militants in Khyber Agency since an operation
was launched in the tribal region on September 1.