Tens of thousands flee Pakistan

October 18, 2009 12:00 am

, ISLAMABAD, Oct 18 – More than 100,000 people have fled South Waziristan, the lawless area on the Afghan border where Pakistan has launched a major ground assault against the Taliban, officials said Sunday.

"Around 100,000 people have been displaced. They are settling in neighbouring Tank and Dera Ismail Khan districts," Colonel Waseem Shahid from an army support group told AFP.

"Some 80,000 people had already left Waziristan before the operation. More people are coming out. In the last two days about 1,500 families or you can say some 22,000 people have left the area," he added.

Pakistani officials say the number could rise to 200,000 with more families expected to leave in coming days, despite an indefinite curfew slapped on parts of South Waziristan, normally home to a population of 600,000.

A spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency in Pakistan confirmed that local authorities had registered more than 100,000 displaced.

"Over the last five days, 3,065 families (around 21,000 people) registered… before this latest influx there had been about 80,500 people or 11,000 families," Ariane Rummery told AFP.


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