September 27, 2013

PAKISTAN: Taliban Islamic Militant Group Launched Rocket Attacks On A Helicopter Carrying The Head Of The Country's Relief Operations For Earthquake Victims :/

The Telegraph Uk
written by Taha Siddiqui, Islamabad
Thursday September 26, 2013

Major General Muhammad Saeed Aleem, chairman of Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), was surveying the scale of destruction caused by the earthquake, which has so far left more than 350 dead, more than 500 injured and wiped out entire villages.

But as he and his colleagues carried out an aerial survey to identify the areas of greatest need, his helicopter was attacked by militants with rocket launchers.The rocket missed its target and there were no injuries but the assault highlighted another factor hampering officials as they try to dispatch aid and rescuers to remote villages throughout a barren landscape of 8,000 square miles.

Balochistan, where the earthquake struck on Tuesday, is home to a separatist insurgency of Baloch nationalists and 'safe haven' areas for the Afghan Taliban leadership. Baloch nationalists are believed to have carried out the attack but no group has yet claimed responsibility.

"The attack happened earlier today around 1 pm. He is safe now. He landed in Panjgur district, and thankfully no one was injured," said Lt. Colonel Tauseef Hassan, a senior NDMA official. The attack would not affect the rescue efforts, he added.

Lt. Col Hassan said the attack was however a cause for concern.

"As evident from this latest incident, we are concerned for the safety of our relief efforts but the Pakistani army, the paramilitary forces and the civilian administration are alert and providing us security around the clock," he said.

The earthquake,which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, has destroyed 90 per cent of homes and buildings in some areas but poor roads, the insurgency and the collapse of telecommunications have hampered the government's relief and rescue efforts.

Hospital officials in Awaran district, one of the worst affected, said they were shifting more cases to Karachi because the local area simply did not have the medical resources to cope. "We do not have the capacity to deal with such a huge number of affectees," said Dr. Noor Bakhsh Bizenjo, the medical superintendent at the district hospital in Awaran.

Around 100 protestors gathered in Awaran to demand the government speed up its relief efforts. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked officials to explain why there had been delays in aid reaching the worst affected areas.

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