Displaced Pakistanis Begin Returning to Swat

ISLAMABAD (RPRN) 7/13/2009–Pakistan’s government has begun returning some of the country’s nearly two million people displaced by fighting between the government and Taliban militants in the northwestern Swat valley. Buses and army trucks lined up Monday to carry home dozens of families at the Jalozai and Charsadda refugee camps located near Peshawar.

Officials say the refugees will return to their homes in stages. However, some are refusing to go back, saying they have not received the $300 in aid promised to them by the government.

Pakistan launched the offensive against Islamic militants in three northwestern districts in April after militants advanced towards an area just 100 kilometers outside of the capital, Islamabad.

Pakistan says nearly 1,700 militants were killed in the offensive. That number has note been independently verified.

The government says Swat valley is now free of militants. But local reports from the region say Taliban militants are still active in the area and continue to intimidate locals.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.