Car bomb, clashes kill 30 people in Pakistan (Lead)

May 23rd, 2009 - 12:52 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 22 (DPA) At least 30 people died in the ongoing military offensive against the Taliban in northwest Pakistan and an explosion outside a cinema Friday that is believed to be in retaliation to the army operation.
The fresh violence came as the UN appealed for $543 million in aid to help the refugees fleeing the army operation in Swat and neighbouring districts of North Western

Frontier Province (NWFP).

The military announced a full-scale action in the region May 8 after a peace agreement collapsed in the face of the Taliban’s advance to within 100 km of the capital Islamabad. Deadly clashes erupted in Buner and Dir in late April.

The Pakistani army said Friday it killed 17 “miscreants-terrorists” in the region and had apprehended four.

“Whereas three security forces personnel including an officer embraced Shahadat (martyrdom) and 10 others were injured in various areas of Swat,” it said in a press statement.

The operation, which has been cheered by the US and other Western allies, has so far eliminated around 1,100 militants while more than 60 troops have been lost. But it has also triggered revenge attacks by militants in other areas of NWFP.

On Friday evening, a car bomb exploded outside a packed cinema hall along a busy street in the NWFP’s capital Peshawar, leaving at least 10 people dead and more than 70 injured.

The explosion partly demolished the Tasveer Mahal (Picture Palace) cinema located in Khyber Bazar.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack but a spokesman of Aawami National Party, which rules the NWFP, linked the attack with the military offensive in Swat.

These people are targeting the civilians so that they could build public pressure to end the military operation, said Zahid Khan.

The pressure is also increasing on the NWFP government because of the growing numbers of people left homeless by the conflict.

According to the UN refugee agency (UNCR), some 1.7 million people have been displaced by this month’s intense fighting. Another 500,000 were uprooted last year.

The United Nations appealed Friday for financial help for the refugees.

“The scale of this displacement is extraordinary in terms of size and speed and has caused incredible suffering,” said Martin Mogwanja, the acting UN humanitarian coordinator.

Around 10 percent of the internally displaced people have been provided shelter in refugee camps, while the rest are staying with relatives or hired private accommodations.

Tens of thousands more people are still struggling to flee the conflict zone. More than 25,000 people were marching towards Khwazakhela security check post in Swat to leave the area, according to a report by the Dawn television.

The locals say they are running out of food because of 25 days of curfew. They say they had only two choices - either to stay and starve to death or leave the area, the news channel reported.

The military operation so far enjoys broad political and public support, but that could vanish quickly if the displaced people were not taken care of.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |