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Refugees flee taliban battle in Swat Valley Pakistan half 2


MINGORA, Pakistan Tens of hundreds of civilians, many on foot or donkey-led carts, took benefit of a lifted curfew to flee Pakistan’s embattled Swat Valley on Sunday, whereas the military mentioned it had killed 400 to 500 militants in its battle in opposition to the Taliban.

The hemorrhaging of residents from a scenic valley that after attracted hordes of vacationers threatened to vastly exacerbate an current inside refugee disaster for a nuclear-armed nation already going through financial, political and different woes.

The military offensive has garnered reward from the U.S., which needs Pakistan to root out havens on its soil the place Taliban militants can plan assaults on American and NATO forces throughout the border in Afghanistan. In an interview aired Sunday, Pakistan’s president urged worldwide help for the battle and insisted the military had sufficient troops within the northwest to deal with the menace.

As they left Swat’s principal city of Mingora, some residents cursed the scenario and condemned the Taliban, whereas others blamed Pakistani leaders for bowing to the West. “Present our image to your grasp America and get cash from him,” some taunted.

The determined Swat residents had been attempting to go away any means they may — on motorbikes, animal-pulled carts, rickshaws or foot. A ban on civilian autos coming into the valley sophisticated the exodus for these with out vehicles. Some chided an Related Press reporter for slowing them down by asking questions.

“We’re going out solely with our garments and some issues to eat on the lengthy journey,” mentioned Rehmat Alam, a 40-year-old medical technician strolling out of Mingora with 18 different family. “We simply obtained out counting on God as a result of there is no such thing as a one else to assist us.”

Fighter jets and helicopter gunships have pounded Swat and surrounding districts over the previous few days after Taliban fighters within the valley moved out and tried to impose their reign in different areas, together with a stretch simply 60 miles from the capital, Islamabad.

The military’s nine-hour suspension of the curfew Sunday may sign a extra intense operation now that extra civilians have left. Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas mentioned 400 to 500 militants had been killed because the operation’s launch final week.

A lot of the most recent combating occurred alongside the periphery of Swat and Shangla, a neighboring district, he mentioned, and at the least 140 our bodies of alleged militants had been found at a militant coaching camp in that space.

Studies that militants from Swat had filtered into Shangla got here out nicely earlier than the most recent operation, nevertheless it additionally was attainable that extra insurgents had been headed to that district to flee the bombardments within the valley.

In Swat, Mingora was comparatively calm, although a military assertion mentioned 50 to 60 militants died Sunday in varied components of the valley. Taliban fighters remained seen in Mingora.

Two troopers additionally died within the newest combating, together with one who succumbed to accidents suffered Friday, the military mentioned. The dying tolls couldn’t be confirmed independently, and a few of the military’s figures couldn’t instantly be reconciled.

Within the northwest district of Mardan, authorities official Khalid Umerzai mentioned greater than 100,000 displaced Pakistanis had been anticipated Sunday, on prime of 252,000 already there.

“Autos loaded with persons are coming down bumper-to-bumper from Swat, and we predict an enormous crowd of individuals and organizing two extra aid camps in Mardan and Takhtbai,” Umerzai mentioned.

Earlier than the most recent operation, some 550,000 folks had been registered as displaced from previous offensives in different components of Pakistan’s northwest, together with the semi-autonomous tribal belt, in keeping with the United Nations.

The worldwide support company World Imaginative and prescient mentioned its aid employees had been discovering “insupportable” circumstances at some camps because of hovering temperatures, overcrowding, insufficient bogs and an absence of electrical energy.

“Regardless of the coordinated efforts of the Pakistani authorities, World Imaginative and prescient and different support businesses on the bottom, we could not be capable of meet essentially the most primary wants of the refugees as shortly as they’re arriving within the camps if it continues at this tempo,” mentioned Jeff Corridor, an official with the help group.

Many within the northwest have little religion within the weak civilian authorities’s skill to assist them, a problem to Pakistan’s leaders as a result of disillusioned refugees may show fertile recruiting floor for the Taliban. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has directed tens of millions of {dollars} to assist the residents of the area.

In his interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari brushed apart considerations that Pakistan’s armed forces are nonetheless too centered on a possible menace from longtime rival India. He mentioned the assets dedicated to the battle in opposition to the Taliban — 135,000 troops within the northwest, he estimated — had been “adequate.”

“It is a conflict of our existence,” Zardari mentioned.
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