Pakistani Civilians Stuck as 55 Militants Die in War

Curfew curbs residents' flight in 'war of country's survival'
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2009 5:08 PM CDT
Young boys hold teapots as they line up to receive hot tea at a refugee camp near Mardan, in northwest Pakistan, Saturday, May 9, 2009.   (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
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(Newser) – Pakistani troops and warplanes killed at least 55 Taliban militants today in what Prime Minister Raza Gilani is calling a "war of the country's survival," the AP reports. Fighting centered in the northwestern Swat Valley, where a curfew prevented residents from fleeing and the main town has only three doctors left, reports Reuters. “We are in pain," said one tearful civilian. "We are helpless and homeless."

Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees continued to challenge nuclear-armed Pakistan's security, in one case looting a UN camp for supplies. About 500,000 have been displaced, and Islamabad says the Taliban use many as human shields. Mindful of rampant mistrust in the government, Gilani has directed millions of dollars to assist residents and engender government support.