NEW YORK - The Taliban's use of landmines and human shields and the Pakistan army's aerial and artillery attacks are placing civilians at 'unnecessary risk' in the fighting in the county's Swat valley, an international rights watchdog says. Residents of Swat's largest town of Mingora, the epicentre of the fighting, told New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) that Taliban militants had laid landmines in the town and prevented many civilians from fleeing, using them as "human shields" to deter attacks. Pakistani forces appeared to have taken insufficient precautionary measures in aerial and artillery attacks that have caused a high loss of civilian life, HRW said, expressing concern that food and medical supplies were not reaching the population in the embattled area. "The Taliban's use of landmines and human shields is a sorry addition to their long list of abuses in the Swat Valley. They urgently need to let civilians leave areas of fighting," said HRW's Asia director Brad Adams. "If Pakistan wants to win not just the battle for Swat but also a sustainable peace, its armed forces need to minimize civilian casualties and suffering," Adams said. "The people of Swat will expect the Pakistani government and armed forces to protect their safety both during the fighting and afterward," he added.