Sunday, May 31, 2009

Red Cross Alarmed by Situation in Pakistani War Zone

Via VOA News -

Red Cross officials have completed their first assessment of the humanitarian needs of people in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where they say the situation is alarming.

The International Committee of the Red Cross stated Sunday that it is gravely concerned about the plight of civilians in Swat, where the Pakistani military is waging war against Taliban fighters.

Red Cross worker Daniel O'Malley said people have been blocked in the battleground for weeks. He said food is scarce, and that there is no running water, electricity or fuel for generators.

O'Malley led the Red Cross team on its first visit to Swat since the army began its offensive there last month.

Pakistani Defense Secretary Syed Athar Ali said Sunday the offensive could be over within two or three days.

The military launched the offensive in the Swat Valley and surrounding districts last month after militants violated a peace deal by advancing close to the capital, Islamabad.

The United Nations says more than 2.5 million people have fled their homes since the fighting began.

Meanwhile, Pakistani intelligence officials said Sunday the military has killed at least 40 Taliban militants along the Afghan border. The officials said at least two government soldiers died in the fighting in South Waziristan.

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