As Pakistan Shells Taliban, 500K Flee Swat

Military bombards densely populated areas; UN warns of crisis
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2009 6:55 AM CDT
Pakistani soldiers are seen on their way to Pakistan's troubled valley of Swat where government security forces are fighting with Taliban militants, Wednesday, May 6, 2009.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
camera-icon View 6 more images

(Newser) – Refugees continue to flee the Swat Valley in Pakistan, reports the Guardian, where government forces battling resurgent Taliban militants have been conducting airstrikes in heavily populated areas. The government is preparing for up to 500,000 refugees in what the UN warns is becoming a humanitarian crisis. The Washington Post reports from a camp outside Islamabad, where refugees told of violence under the Taliban and erratic behavior by the government and military.

"I feel like I have lost my mind," says one refugee, recounting two years of living under Taliban abuses. Another man describes watching two Taliban fighters slit the throat of a policeman they dragged out of a truck. But the Pakistan government's back-and-forth efforts in the region, alternatively cutting deals with the Taliban and attacking them, have left citizens confused and unsure of whom to trust. Says one refugee, "The people were filled with great rage, and great fear."