Taliban threat to flood aid workers

FOREIGN workers providing flood relief to millions in Pakistan could face attacks from Taliban insurgents.

Taliban sources said their presence was “unacceptable”.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq claimed that the United States and other countries were not really focused on providing aid to flood victims, but had other “intentions”.

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Mr Tariq strongly hinted that the militants could resort to violence.

He said: “When we say something is unacceptable to us, one can draw his own conclusion.”

The US and other countries have pledged nearly $800m for the relief effort and hundreds of aid workers have arrived to help Pakistan cope with the worst floods in the nation’s history in a humanitarian disaster which continued to worsen yesterday.

Pakistani officials urged anyone left in three southern towns to evacuate immediately as water broke through an embankment, endangering areas previously untouched by the disaster.

The swollen Indus River broke through the Sur Jani embankment in southern Sindh province, threatening the towns of Sujawal, Daro and Mir Pur Batoro, said Mansoor Sheik, a government official in Thatta district.

Most of the 400,000 people in the area were thought to have left already, but those remaining were warned to flee, he said.

The floods began almost a month ago with the onset of the monsoon and have ravaged a massive swathe of Pakistan, from the mountainous north to its agricultural heartland.

More than eight million people are in need of emergency assistance, and the UK and the US have led nations in pledging hundreds of millions of pounds in aid.

The death toll in the floods stands around 1,500, but the disaster ranks as one of Pakistan’s worst because of the scale and massive economic damage, especially to the country’s vital agricultural sector.

The UN said earlier this week that 800,000 people were still cut off by the water and accessible only by air.

As floodwaters receded in the north, they continued to wreak havoc in the south as swollen rivers flowed through.

Pakistan’s senior meteorologist, Arif Mahmood, said high tides were preventing the Indus River from fully dumping excess water into the Arabian Sea. “We hope these tides would fully subside after 48 hours,” he said.

A total of 35m has been pledged in Britain for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal and the Government last week doubled its help to 60m which will be spent alongside the money raised by the DEC appeal.

As well as addressing the urgent need for shelter, food, clean water and healthcare, the support will increasingly go to longer-term help for people to rebuild their lives, such as supplying farmers with new seed for crops.

The UK is sending 10 prefabricated 30-metre road bridges to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district. Two bridges already in Pakistan will leave Karachi in the next few days.

n The theft from the Ursaline Convent in Lancaster of a collection box containing money for the Pakistan floods disaster was condemned by police last night as “despicable”.

A man and two boys approached nuns on Wednesday and were given permission to enter the grounds but not the house. Shortly afterwards it was discovered that the box containing about 100 had been stolen.