Islamabad: Pakistan on Tuesday renewed the announcement of a bounty of Rs 50 million on the head of Maulana Fazlullah, Taliban commander in the restive Swat valley as troops were reported to be closing in on his hideouts.
The government issued an advertisement in the country's leading newspapers that it would pay Rs 50 million for information that would help authorities capture Fazlullah "dead or alive".
Alongwith Fazlullah, rewards up to 10 million were offered for 20 of his deputies, including his spokesman Muslim Khan.
The bounties on the Taliban leaders came as unconfirmed reports said that Khan was injured and two sons of commander Sirajuddin were killed when a militant hideout in Kabal area was shelled on Monday.
Fazlullah, military officials said, was targeted thrice during the ongoing military offensive in Swat but he managed to escape.
Military officials in Swat were quoted by Dawn News channel as saying that troops had demolished Fazlullah's headquarters at Imamdheri with explosives.
The sprawling headquarters had served as the Taliban's "supreme court and prison. It was also a key base for the collection of funds by the militants. Under a peace agreement finalised by the radical Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi and the North West Frontier Province government earlier this year, the Taliban base at Imamdehri was to have been converted into an Islamic university.
However, the peace deal fell apart after the Taliban extended their influence from Swat to adjoining districts and the government called in the army to eliminate the militants.
The advertisements featured the photos of Fazlullah and 15 of his deputies, including Shah Dauran, Sirajuddin, Bakht Farzand, Ibn-e-Amin and Akbar Hussain. Most of the deputies are responsible for controlling Taliban fighters in different parts of Swat valley.
The advertisements said: "These people are definitely murderers of humanity and deserve punishment. Help the government to put them in front of justice." They included three telephone numbers that people could call to pass on information.
Meanwhile, authorities on Monday imposed an indefinite curfew in the Bannu area of NWFP, sparking speculation that the army could launch an operation in the region against militants who recently kidnapped dozens of students of the Razmak Cadet College.
Security forces used artillery to target militant positions in Bannu last night and closed all roads leading to the area. Local residents said announcements were made on loudspeakers on Tuesday asking people to remain indoors and business centres and shops to close down.