Fazlullah alive, Pak channels air new video

Fazlullah and his top aides, for whom the government has offered rewards totalling millions of rupees, fled the northwestern Swat valley after the Pakistan army launched a major operation to flush out militants last year.

In the 40-minute video, parts of which were aired on news channels, Fazlullah is shown firing an AK-47 assault rifle and addressing a group of 10 men he called suicide bombers.
The video, made at an undisclosed location, was provided by militants to reporters in northwest Pakistan yesterday.

"The government and the military are against us and you should target them," Fazlullah, who is seen limping but otherwise appears to be healthy, tells his followers.
He is also shown embracing the suicide bombers, who were ready to "accomplish their mission."

Fazlullah, known as "Mullah Radio" for the fiery sermons he used to broadcast on an illegal FM channel, ridiculed the government's claim that it has restored peace in Swat, saying, "the army committed the worst terrorism by killing innocent people in Swat."

He said the Taliban had fled from Swat as part of a strategy. "We do not concede defeat...it was our tactical retreat and part of our strategy. We are still active," he said.

Fazlullah also criticised the government for recently holding a peace festival in Swat and "promoting vulgarity and obscenity."

Though the army killed hundreds of Taliban fighters during the operation in Swat and other parts of Malakand division, it failed to capture most of the top militant commanders in the region.

Fazlullah claimed last year that he had managed to escape to Afghanistan.

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