Refugee Tally Hits 1.3M as Pakistan Plans Ground Strike

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2009 7:13 PM CDT
Local residents flee from Mingora, the main town of Pakistan troubled Swat Valley, Sunday, May 10, 2009.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Pakistani forces told more residents of Swat Valley to flee during a 9-hour lull in fighting today, sparking an even greater migration that is snarling roads and deepening a humanitarian crisis, the Guardian reports. A quarter million refugees have now registered for help, bringing the homeless tally to 1.3 million in North West Frontier province. One aid groups called conditions "intolerable" in six new refugee camps.

Meanwhile, militants took advantage of the lull to entrench their positions against an anticipated Pakistani ground assault. The army says 12,000 to 15,000 troops are positioned to strike up to 5,000 Taliban militants in Swat. US General David Petraeus called the Taliban a threat "to the very existence of the Pakistani state" but denied that Washington would put "combat boots on the ground."