Pakistan's army continues US-backed Swat valley offensive after the reported deaths of 700 militants - May 12, 2009
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A suicide bomber killed 10 people at a security post as troops battled the insurgency just 80 miles from the capital Islamabad.
The fighting has led to an exodus of people from the valley, and there are now fears of a humanitarian crisis.
At least 360,000 people have left their homes in recent days, joining 600,000 others who had already been displaced.
JON SNOW, PRESENTER, CHANNEL 4 NEWS: The Pakistani army's offensive against the Taliban is continuing, following the reported deaths of 700 militants in a military campaign supported by the United States. A suicide bomber killed 10 people at a security post today as troops battled an insurgency in the Swat Valley, 18 miles from the capital. The fighting has led to an exodus of people from the valley, and there are fears of a humanitarian crisis. It's believed 360,000 people have left their homes in recent days, joining 500,000 others who'd already been displaced. Our foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Rugman reports. And this report does contain scenes which some may find distressing.JONATHAN RUGMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, CHANNEL 4 NEWS: Heading for the front line, Pakistani troops on the highway leading to the Swat Valley, where 20 soldiers and 700 Taliban militants have been reported killed in the last four days. The enemy's on the run, says Islamabad, vowing that it won't stop till the last Taliban is flushed out of hiding. But official casualty figures are impossible to verify, and whatever the truth, hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis are reckoned to have fled the fighting. The UN's estimate? Three hundred and sixty thousand so far, many of them escaping with little more than the clothes on their backs. This offensive, designed to root out the Taliban, is now in danger of delivering yet more recruits.BAKHTE RWAN (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): I was coming back to my family after praying, and they started shelling. When I reached my house, I found my wife and two sons were dead. And now I have nothing.RUGMAN: Refugee camps are swelling with new arrivals, while thousands more remain trapped on or near the front line. This man says he walked here with his son and two cows and the goat. At first he was told there was no room for him, until a fellow refugee, hearing his story, then let him into his tent.SIKANDER SHAH (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): One of our vehicles was hit on the way here, and we lost one child. There are lots of civilian casualties. It is not our fault the fighting is going on.RUGMAN: How the government treats these traumatized people could prove critical to keeping the Pakistani public on the government's side, though Islamabad has declared that the provincial authorities are to manage and coordinate emergency relief.MOHAMMED PARWAEZ (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): We've gone more than 24 hours without eating. They haven't told us anything. There's no food here. No water. Nothing. I have small children. What can I do? The officials told me to go outside and buy water. I don't even have anything to carry it in.RUGMAN: Because there isn't enough food to go around, local villagers outside the conflict zone are donating what they can. The Pakistani prime minister has called for more foreign aid. But, if the army does not take on the Taliban it fears there will be more scenes like this--A suicide bomber today killing eight people north of Peshawar and injuring several others. So, after 15,000 troops have been deployed against up to 5,000 Taliban guerillas. In what the government is calling the fight for the country's survival. There may be too early to say whether the fighting and this exodus from it will do more harm than good.DISCLAIMER:Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
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