Pakistani military officials declared Friday that they had launched a “full-scale offensive” against extremist Taliban fighters in the Swat valley and said they plan to remain there until peace is restored and the area is back under government control.
The army’s chief spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, said at a news conference in this garrison city that 143 extremists had been killed in the previous 24 hours. He said as many as 15,000 soldiers and other security forces were battling about 4,000 fighters, whom he referred to as “miscreants” and “anti-state elements.”
The army’s announcement of a stepped-up assault came amid a continued outpouring of refugees from the conflicted region near the Afghan border. Since early this week, hundreds of thousands of people have been struggling to reach government camps hastily set up in safer districts.
Statue of Liberty crown opens July 4
The Statue of Liberty’s crown, with its exhilarating view of New York’s skyscrapers, bridges and seaport, is reopening on Independence Day for the first time since terrorists leveled the World Trade Center just across the harbor.
Safety and security issues have been addressed and 50,000 people, 10 at a time, will get to visit the 265-foot-high crown in the next two years before it is closed again for renovation, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday.
The statue was closed to the public because of security concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
From wire reports