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Taliban declares indefinite ceasefire in Swat
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | February 24, 2009 12:14 IST
Taliban [Images] militants on Tuesday declared an indefinite ceasefire in Pakistan's restive Swat valley where they have been waging an armed campaign for the last two years.
Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told reporters in Swat that a meeting of the 'Shura' or 'council' of the militants had decided to extend the ceasefire for an indefinite period. The meeting was chaired by Maulana Fazlullah, he said.
Khan also said the militants had released three kidnapped security personnel as a 'goodwill gesture'. The local Taliban led by Fazlullah had last week called a ten-day unilateral truce to facilitate peace talks with the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi, a group of religious hardliners.
The TNSM is led by Maulana Sufi Mohammad, who is Fazlullah's father-in-law. Sufi had on Monday urged the Taliban to stop all their activities in Swat and to release all prisoners.
After the TNSM reached an agreement with Pakistani authorities on enforcing Sharia or Islamic laws in Swat, Mohammad and his aides have been holding talks with Fazlullah and his fighters.
The authorities have also announced a separate truce in Swat and the army has halted its operations against the militants. However, the peace deal has been criticised by Western powers, with some saying it amounts to a capitulation to the Taliban.