The Pakistani military said yesterday that it has "successfully" wrapped up its decade-long anti-Taliban offensive in the restive northwestern valley of Swat.
"Today is our victory day and we proudly announced that now there is no presence of any terrorist hideouts in Swat as Pakistan's military successfully defeated them and destroyed all their hideouts in Swat and other parts of the Malakand region," Mehmood Khan, chief minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said.
His remarks came during a ceremony to mark the end of the operations and handover of powers to civilian authorities after 11 years of military rule in the region.
The Swat valley, a tourist attraction located in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, used to be known as the "Switzerland of Pakistan." The valley has been a stronghold for the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistani Taliban, from 2007 to 2009. Pakistani forces were deployed in Swat in 2007 to launch a large-scale operation against Taliban militants. The last deadly attack carried out by the Taliban in Swat valley was in January 2013 when 21 worshipers were killed and 70 others injured at a religious center. "Terrorists had destroyed our educational institutions, health facilities and killed thousands of innocent people in Swat, Dir, Buner and other parts of the Malakand Division," Khan recalled. "Today complete peace has returned here." According to the provincial police chief, Salahuddin Mehsud, the provincial government has deployed over 20,000 policemen in the Swat valley to secure the region.
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