Pakistani general: Army has Islamic militants on the run in Swat area

The army has driven militants from all the towns in a scenic northern valley, a general said Saturday, killing 290 followers of a pro-Taliban cleric in an operation that has fed into Pakistan's political crisis. Militants seized tracts of the Swat valley, a former tourist destination 160 kilometers from the capital, Islamabad, this summer, raising concern about the spread of Islamic militancy from along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Followers of firebrand preacher Maulana Fazlullah had fended off security forces sent to reinforce the area's beleaguered police since July, but have been scattered by a major army operation launched last month. Maj. Gen. Nasser Janjua said his 20,000-strong force had now retaken all the towns seized by the militants, and driven a hardcore of some 400-500 into the Piochar side valley.