The United Nations refugee agency says it will airlift 120 tons of
humanitarian supplies to help Pakistanis fleeing a military offensive
against the Taliban.
The agency's chief, Antonio Guterres, said Monday that the "speed and
scale" of the displacement of people in northwestern Pakistan requires
an immediate international humanitarian response.
The airlift will include $584,000 worth of plastic sheets, portable
warehouses and mosquito nets. The United States also announced Monday
that it is providing $4.9 million in emergency aid to displaced
The U.N. refugee agency says more than 360,000 people have registered with authorities after escaping the latest fighting.
Pakistan's army launched its air and ground offensive against Taliban
positions in the northwest Malakand region last week after a peace pact
broke down. Heavy fighting also continues across the Swat Valley.
The newest refugees are joining about 500,000 other people who have
been displaced by violence in other northwestern areas in the past
Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced Monday that at least 700
militants were killed in operations around the northwestern Swat Valley
in recent days. The death toll could not be independently verified.
As the military pushed forward Monday, a suicide bomber killed 10
people at a security checkpoint in North West Frontier Province. No one
claimed responsibility for the blast.
In related news, the U.S.-based New York Times newspaper
published a report Monday saying that al-Qaida is taking advantage of
Pakistan's turmoil to strengthen its presence there. The article quotes
unnamed U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials who say al-Qaida is
recruiting young fighters from across the region and the Middle East,
and bolstering other Islamist militant groups.