Islamic militants in north Pakistan agree ceasefire

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The Independent Online

Islamist fighters in Pakistan's northwestern Swat valley announced a 10-day ceasefire yesterday, while talks are underway that could establish Islamic sharia as the system of law in the region.

Militants seeking to impose Islamic law began fighting government forces in late 2007 and now control the valley – which was once one of Pakistan's most popular tourist destinations.

Last year, authorities released radical cleric Maulana Sufi Mohammad, who led a revolt in Swat in the 1990s, in an effort to restore peace to the region, but the fighting continued and forced tens of thousands to flee.

"We're announcing a ceasefire as a goodwill gesture for the ongoing talks between Maulana Sufi Mohammad and the government," said a spokesman for the militants. On Saturday, the militants freed a Chinese man held hostage for more than five months, in a move officials saw as an act of good faith. Reuters