PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) – Pakistani troops shut down three FM radio stations Friday and arrested eight employees after the stations aired a speech by a pro-Taliban cleric, the military said.
Weapons, ammunition, audio cassettes and “provocative literature” were seized, and troops dismantled the stations’ transmission equipment, the military said in a statement.
The raids on the stations, which operated without a license, took place early Friday in the Swat Valley, a restive area in Pakistan’s northwest.
A day earlier, the stations had broadcast a recording of a fiery speech by Maulana Fazlullah, a radical Muslim cleric who tried to enforce Taliban-style Islam in the valley, said Syed Akhter Ali Shah, a top police officer in Swat.
Pakistan’s security forces have been battling Fazlullah’s supporters there for months. “We believe one of Fazlullah’s cassettes was used by the channels,” Shah said. “The man is on run … law enforcement agencies are combing the area.”
Shah said Fazlullah’s speech Thursday was likely prerecorded, because of security concerns.