Pakistani Cleric Calls Ceasefire

Dozens killed in clashes with government troops, helicopters
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2007 12:07 PM CDT
Local resident Syed Zaman shows a leaflet dropped from helicopter by authorities urging residents to help police and paramilitary forces "eliminate extremism and terrorism from the Swat valley," at his...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Supporters of an extremist cleric who had declared a jihad against Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire today after fierce fighting this weekend claimed between 50 and 60 of their number, Al Jazeera reports. Pakistan had sent 2,500 paramilitary troops to Swat to head off Maulana Fazlullah, who wants to establish a Taliban-style state governed by Islamic law.

"Later on we will hold negotiations with the government on establishing Islamic Sharia," declared Fazlullah’s spokesman. The militants captured a police post over the weekend; the government retaliated with helicopter gunships. Violence began in the region after government troops stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad this summer. Swat is part of the largely lawless tribal region bordering Afghanistan.