200,000 civilians flee Bajaur as intense fighting continues between Pak govt, militants

September 6th, 2008 - 1:24 pm ICT by ANI  

Islamabad , Sept 6 (ANI): Amid intense fighting going on between the Pakistan forces and militants in the Bajaur Agency district in north Pakistan , hordes of people have started begun fleeing the area to safer places. So far, nearly two lakh people have fled their villages in the Bajaur Agency, said an official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

While a large number of civilians traveled south to Mardan and Peshawar , others headed north to the Lower Dir district. Besides, approximately 14,000 tribals traveled over the border to Afghanistan , fearing the fighting will drag on for a long time.

At least 200,000 people have fled their homes in the semi-autonomous Bajaur district near the Afghanistan border in the past three weeks. About 80 percent of this displaced population was composed of women and children, and a few elderly, The Telegraph quoted Pascal Cuttat, the head of the ICRC Pakistan delegation, as saying at a press briefing in Geneva.

He added: With government forces facing heavy opposition, there is a real war shaking the Bajaur region at the moment. In the last few weeks, we have a dramatic intensification of the armed conflict which has its flare-ups and this is the most difficult one.

Pakistan ‘’s forces have launched a number of major military offensives in recent weeks against militants in the Bajaur district, which is thought to be an Al-Qaeda stronghold.

According to him, a majority of men opted to remain in their homes to protect their belongings and not leave their land during the harvest season.

Meanwhile, fearing a spread in diseases such as cholera, the ICRC has provided drinking water to 50,000 people, as well as health facilities, tents and medicine. These displaced people urgently need vital items, Cuttat said. (ANI)

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