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Trapped Civilians Ordered out of Conflict Zone, 200 Militants Killed

To let people flee the conflict zone, Pakistan military ordered them out temporarily relaxing a curfew in Mingora on Sunday.

Pakistan hopes to stop a growing Taliban insurgency with its offensive in the former tourist valley 130 km from Islamabad after US criticism that the government was failing to act against the Islamist militants.

According to the army, nearly 200 militants have been killed in the fighting in recent days. The figure could not be independently confirmed.

In the past week, hundreds of thousands of people have left Swat and in all, about 500,000 are expected to move out. They join 555,000 people displaced earlier from Swat and other areas because of fighting since August.

“We have ordered the civilian population in four districts to vacate the areas,” said Nasir Khan, a military spokesman in the region.

“They have seven hours to leave because we have to strike militant hideouts there,” he said. The army went on a full-scale offensive on Thursday after the government ordered troops to flush out militants from the Taliban stronghold.

The conflict had taken grave turn in past few days, forcing exodus of civilians from the region but concern has been growing about the fate of those still trapped and unable to move because of the curfew.

The lifting of the curfew for seven hours on Sunday triggered a new flood, although residents said transport was hard to come by as the military was not letting vehicles into the valley.

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