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Radical Swat valley cleric arrested

Article published on the 2009-07-26 Latest update 2009-07-26 14:17 TU

A refugee returns to the Swat valley's main town, Mingora(Photo: Reuters)

A refugee returns to the Swat valley's main town, Mingora
(Photo: Reuters)

Pakistani security forces have arrested Soofi Mohammad, the radical Islamic cleric who brokered a failed peace deal with the Taliban in Swat, where the military are now pursuing an offensive against the rebels.

Soofi Mohammad, who leads his own movement, the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi, was arrested in the North-West Frontier Province capital, Peshawar, officials say.

"The government has arrested Maulana Soofi Mohammad. A formal case against him will be registered soon," Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussein told a press conference.

"Instead of keeping his promises by taking steps for the sake of peace, and speaking out against terrorism, he did not utter a single word against terrorists."

Iftikhar said Muhammad would be investigated in relation to his role as mediator between the government and the Taliban, and that a case would then be made based on that investigation.

"He killed a lot of people. Again he was planning for this. We will not allow anyone to destroy peace at Malakand and Swat," the minister said.

Muhammad’s son Azmat Ullah, 12, told The Associated Press that police arrived at his home in Sethi on the outskirts of Peshawar in four vans and took away his father and three brothers.

Soofi Mohammad, who is the father-in-law of Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah, brokered February's peace deal between the armed Islamists and the government. But the agreement broke down when the Taliban started to spread their rule outside the area agreed in the deal.

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