’Dozens of bodies’ found in Afghan area hit by US air strikes
THE international Red Cross has confirmed finding “dozens of bodies” in graves and rubble in Farah province, where Afghan officials allege US bombs killed civilians.
The International Committee of the Red Cross reported on Wednesday that its officials saw women and children among dozens of bodies in two villages targeted by air strikes, while the US military sent a brigadier-general to investigate. A former Afghan government official said up to 120 people died in the bombing on Monday night.
The first images from the bombings, obtained by Associated Press, showed villagers burying the dead in about a dozen fresh graves, while others dug through the rubble of demolished mud-brick homes. A Red Cross team travelled to Bala Baluk district in Farah on Tuesday where the officials saw “dozens of bodies in each of the two locations that we went to”, said a spokeswoman, Jessica Barry. “There were bodies, there were graves … We do confirm women and children.”
Meanwhile, more than 40,000 civilians have fled Mingora, a key town in north-west Pakistan’s Swat Valley as fears grow of a fresh military offensive against the Taliban.
In the past few days clashes have flared in Mingora, the main town in the one-time ski resort devastated by a two-year Taliban insurgency, as a peace deal with hardliners appears close to collapse.
The Government scrambled to shelter up to 500,000 people they expect to flee Swat and local officials said tens of thousands streamed out of the Swat district’s main town. “More than 40,000 have migrated from Mingora since Tuesday afternoon,” said Khushhal Khan, the chief administration officer in Swat. “An exodus of more than 40,000 people is the minimum number. It should actually be more than 50,000,” said an intelligence official.
Bedraggled men, women in burqas and children piled onto trucks led animals through streets in their haste to flee Swat, where the Taliban has sought to impose sharia, bombing girls’ schools and beheading officials.