Afghan refugees flee Pakistan violence

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Owen Faulkner

2008-10-11

ISLAMABAD, October 8 — An ongoing military crackdown on Islamic extremism in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal agency has forced many families to move to the relative safety of Kabul, and to Afghanistan’s north-eastern Kunar province, the Afghan Refugee Ministry said earlier this month.

Pakistan ordered the eviction of about 50,000 Afghan refugees from the agency on Oct. 7, prior to the conduct of more large-scale military operations in the area and amid concerns that Afghan refugees are linked to the insurgency.

Pakistan’s army says it has killed about 1,000 militants and wounded more than 2,000 during the crackdown, which was launched in August.

Kunar’s provincial governor said he would send food and medical aid to the refugees who had escaped the fighting and fled to his province, which is located on the border.

Pakistani refugees who have sought refuge in Kabul say they have received no aid from the government despite similar promises of food and medicine.

The Afghan Defence Ministry said Pakistan’s crack-down on rebel fighters in its tribal areas had reduced the soaring levels of violence seen in recent months inside Afghanistan.

Defense Minister Rahim Wardak on Oct. 5 praised Pakistan’s current military operations for reducing militant operations in Afghanistan.

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