Refugees flee Pakistan —for Afghanistan

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that fighting between the Pakistani military and militants in the autonomous tribal districts on the Afghan border has driven 20,000 to flee as refugees into Afghanistan. The exodus from the Bajaur tribal agency into Afghanistan’s Kunar province echoes the earlier mass exodus across the border—but in the opposite direction. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, an estimated five million Afghans fled to neighboring countries, chiefly Pakistan. The UNHCR and aid agencies are rushing emergency supplies to the Kunar refugees. (NYT, Sept. 29)

Meanwhile, an Afghan police officer opened fire on US troops in a police station south of Kabul Sept. 28, killing one of the soldiers. The US forces fired back, killing the police officer. A NATO statement said a joint NATO-Afghan patrol in Paktia province, which had escaped without injury from a roadside bomb and small-arms fire, arrested seven civilians who tested positive for explosives residue. The patrol took the suspects to the police station, where NATO said “an altercation” ensued. (NYT, Sept. 30)

See our last posts on Pakistan and the Afghanistan.

  1. US missile kills 20 in North Waziristan: report
    From Pakistan’s The News, Oct. 3:

    MIRANSHAH — A US missile destroyed a house in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan Friday, killing around 20 people, mostly foreign nationals.

    “Our reports suggest that around 20 suspected militants were killed when a missile hit a house in Mohammad Khel village in North Waziristan. Most were foreigners,” a senior Pakistani security official said, according to a foreign news agency.

    A local intelligence official said that 21 were killed including 16 foreigners, adding that most of those were Arabs. The house belonged to two Afghan refugees settled in the area, the official said.

    Officials had no details about the identity of those killed.

    There was no immediate confirmation from the Pakistani military or from the US-led coalition in Afghanistan.

    The Pakistani military separately denied local reports that US helicopters and fighter jets from Afghanistan killed several people, including two woman and a child, in another part of North Waziristan earlier on Friday.

    Local officials said US air power hit a village lying just inside Pakistan’s territory after US troops came under fire in Afghanistan’s Khost province. But the army said the incident happened in Afghanistan itself.

  2. 60,000 Afghan refugees ordered to leave Pakistan’s tribal areas
    From Pakistan’s The News, Oct. 8:

    KHAR — Pakistan has ordered around 60,000 Afghan refugees to leave the tribal areas, officials said on Tuesday.

    The deportation order came after a deadline set for them to go back to their homeland expired on Sunday, security officials said. “On the orders of the interior ministry we have launched a crackdown against Afghan refugees who did not leave the area,” government official Abdul Haseeb said.

    He said that most of the Afghans were in Bajaur illegally, having sneaked back in across the porous border around two years after returning to Afghanistan under a UN-backed repatriation programme. “But there are also reports about Afghan refugees’ involvement in militant and anti-social activities, that is why they were being expelled,” Haseeb said.

    The security forces have arrested around 40 Afghans and sealed shops owned by Afghans, he said, adding: “There will be no extension in the deadline. It should not be a problem for most of them because they have to just cross the border and go home,” the official said.

  3. Children are collateral damage in Bajaur blast
    From the NY Times, Oct. 9:

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — On the second day of a special session of Parliament focused on Pakistan’s deteriorating security, a suicide bomber struck the police headquarters here in the capital, and at least 10 people, including 4 schoolchildren, were killed when a bomb exploded on a road in another part of the country.

    The attack on the police station in Islamabad wounded eight people and was carried out despite the stepped-up security measures in the heart of the capital since the bombing of the Marriott Hotel, which killed more than 53 people on Sept. 20.

    In the other attack, a roadside bomb, apparently detonated by remote control, hit a police van transporting prisoners in Upper Dir district, near Bajaur.

    The blast killed at least two police officers and three prisoners, the police said. Another bus, carrying the schoolchildren, was trailing close behind the police van and was also hit by the blast, the Associated Press of Pakistan, the state-run news agency, reported.