Friday 27 August 2010 | Pakistan feed

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Pakistan floods: Taliban vows to kidnap foreign aid workers

The Pakistan Taliban is planning to kidnap foreign aid workers delivering assistance in the aftermath of devastating floods, according to an American diplomatic official.

 
Pakistani flood survivors try to catch food bags from an army helicopter in Lal Pir
Pakistani flood survivors try to catch food bags from an army helicopter in Lal Pir Photo: AFP

"According to information available to the US government, [Pakistan militant group] Tehreek-e-Taliban plans to conduct attacks against foreigners participating in the ongoing flood relief operations in Pakistan," the official said.

"Tehreek-e-Taliban also may be making plans to attack federal and provincial ministers in Islamabad," the official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

Weeks of flooding have affected an estimated 17.2m people. At least eight million need emergency humanitarian aid and hundreds of thousands are still stranded and cut off from supplies.

Charities and United Nations agencies have fanned out across the region, and hundreds of relief workers are operating in the north-west of the country, where militants have bases along the border with Afghanistan.

Banned Islamist charities have also emerged at the forefront of aid efforts, using the emergency to win hearts and minds.

It has emerged that a senior American aid official had inadvertently visited a camp supplied by a charity with links to a militant group on a terrorist list.

Ravi Shah, the head of the US Agency for International Development toured a camp in Sukkur Falah-e-Insaniat, a charity with ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba and its humanitarian wing Jamaat-ud-Dawa, both blacklisted by the United Nations.

However, last night's warning is the first suggestion that relief efforts might be targeted by militants although the Pakistani Taliban has previously denounced all foreign aid for victims of the catastrophic flooding.

There are also concerns that the floods have choked off key supply routes to Nato forces in Afghanistan and allowed breathing space for militants in Pakistan as the military diverts helicopters and personnel to flood relief.

Marine Commandant General James Conway said Pakistan's powerful Army chief, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, had warned him that the Army was preoccupied.

"Gen Kiyani cautioned me that the involvement of his Army in the flood relief will for a time detract from their efforts to secure the Pakistani frontier," he said during a Pentagon briefing after returning from a visit to flood-affected areas.

 
 
Pakistan flood victims
Pakistan floods
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