PAKISTAN: THE BATTLE WITHIN - Page 2 - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-15-2009, 03:09 AM
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(But still no word on civilian death tole) Eric

Pakistan has temporarily lifted a curfew in the Swat Valley to enable thousands of civilians to flee the fighting. Skip related content
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Thousands more flee Pakistan fighting
They will join 830,000 people who have already fled their homes and ended up in overcrowded camps for those displaced by the fighting. A further 500,000 people were forced to leave their homes by earlier fighting in northwest pakistan.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called for massive international help to avert a humanitarian tragedy.

The army launched an offensive in Swat last week to stop the spread of Taliban influence which had alarmed its nuclear-armed Pakistan's Western allies.

The military said the curfew was being lifted in Mingora, Swat's main town which the Taliban still control, and other areas for eight hours.

"We have been waiting for the curfew to be lifted as the fighting has intensified and our food was almost finished," said Mohammad Zari, fleeing Minogra on foot with his family.

Hundreds of people were streaming down a road from Swat, heading south where authorities have set up camps on the low land.

The army, which is surrounding Minogra, has banned private cars from entering the town but the government had laid on 150 vehicles about five miles southwest to take people away, the military said.

Residents began fleeing late last month when the army attacked the Taliban in two districts near Swat they had occupied in violation of a February peace pact aimed at ending violence.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said the army would defeat the Taliban militarily but risked losing the support of the people if it did not help those forced from their homes in the country's largest ever internal displacement.

The offensive in Swat came after the US accused the government of "abdicating" to the militants.

Pakistani action against militants is vital for allied efforts to defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban and stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan.

The military said about 124 militants and nine soldiers had been killed in the previous 24 hours. That would take the toll to around 870 militants and 45 soldiers.

There have been no independent confirmation of the casualties.

About 15,000 members of the security forces are facing about 5,000 militants in the Swat region, the military says.


"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one."
- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second ... if there is one."
- Winston Churchill, in response.
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