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PAKISTAN'S OFFENSIVE FORCED TALIBANS FLEEING


PAKISTAN'S offensive against the Taliban has forced 1 million people to flee their homes, the United Nations said yesterday.
Air strikes rocked Mingora, the main town in the Swat Valley, as the armed forces pressed ahead with an assault to clear out Taliban insurgents who have claimed swathes of the country in recent months.
The latest assessment from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees revealed the scale of the fighting. It said 200,000 civilians had fled Swat and two neighbouring districts, while another 300,000 were either on the move or preparing to leave.
Earlier offensives against the Taliban in other regions of the rugged north-west province near the Afghan border have already displaced 500,000 people.
Many civilians have left their homes and thousands more are trapped by the fighting and are at risk of being used as human shields by Taliban guerillas.
The air force continued to bomb Taliban positions, killing an estimated 140 guerillas in 24 hours, a day after the Government ordered the armed forces to "eliminate terrorists".
President Asif Ali Zardari, who is on an official visit to the United States, promised that military operations would last until "normalcy" had returned to Swat.
Courtesy: The Sydney Morning Herald
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