Pakistan imposes food blockade on militants
Pakistani authorities imposed a food blockade and a 12-hour curfew in a restive northwest valley where troops are battling militants loyal to a pro-Taliban cleric, officials said yesterday.
Residents in Swat valley said loudspeakers announced a daily curfew from 2:00am to 2:00pm.
Intelligence officials said food supplies to the areas where militants are holed up had been stopped and any kind of movement was already disallowed, to prevent weapons and other supplies reaching them.
"Ten trucks loaded with food supplies were ordered last night to stop in Mingora," an intelligence official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Several residents in the valley said there were no food shortages in the area so far, but feared problems if the curfews and roadblocks continue.
A spokesman for militant leader Maulana Fazlullah slammed the blockade in a statement, saying it would create hardship for the residents.
The death toll since the start of last week in Swat, where fighters loyal to Fazlullah are demanding Islamic Sharia law, is now more than 220, according to army figures.
The unrest began in Swat in July when Fazlullah's forces occupied several villages.
President Pervez Musharraf, who cited growing militancy as one of the key reasons for declaring emergency rule on November 3, has ordered the army to flush rebels out of the area.