21st April 2009,
by Syed Shoaib Hasan
Taleban militants operating in Pakistan's Swat region who agreed a peace deal with the government have expanded operations into nearby Buner.
Dozens of militants have been streaming into bordering Buner to take over mosques and government offices.
Buner is part of the Malakand region, which has just seen the implementation of Sharia law under the peace deal.
But the Taleban have mainly operated in Swat, where they fought the army from August 2007 until this year's deal.
Under the deal the Taleban were expected to disarm.
Buner district is only about 100km (62 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for North West Frontier Province, said he had received reports of the Taleban expansion.
Recent reports said the Taleban had ransacked the offices of international aid and development agencies working in Buner.
Some employees of the agencies were also briefly taken hostage before being released on Monday.
The Taleban have banned the playing of music in cars and are also using mosques to invite local youth to join them.
The Taleban have also started regular patrols in the district.
Buner's police chief, Rashid Khan, said the police had lodged an official complaint over the matter.
But the Taleban are not mentioned in the reports, which only names "unknown persons" as the culprits.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain maintains that the Taleban must disarm as agreed under the peace deal.
"Even Sufi Mohammad has said that there is no reason for the Taleban not to disarm," he said.
He was referring to the head of a local religious group who has been acting as the government's chief negotiator with the Taleban.
"We initially adopted the path of dialogue and reconciliation, but this is as far as we can go," Mr Hussain said.
"We implemented Sharia law as it was a demand of the people, not just the Taleban.
"If they continue with their activities, they will not have the support of the people.
"The majority of the people are now with the government. The government will not stand by and tolerate [the violation of] the peace deal."
The Taleban say they will not lay down their arms until Sharia is fully implemented.
Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Swat Taleban, said his movement's aim was the enforcement of Sharia law in all of Pakistan.
Click to view image: 'Map of the Area'
In: Middle East
Tags: Pakistan, Swat, Buner, Malakand, Islamabad, Taliban, Sharia law
Location: Swat, North-West Frontier, Pakistan (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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