Pakistan Taliban Threatens to Kill Relief Workers
The Pakistani Taliban called the presence of foreign relief workers, which include San Diego-based Marines, in this flood-ravaged country 'unacceptable' on Thursday and obliquely suggested that militants could carry out attacks against members of aid groups, according to the New York Times.
United Nations spokesman Maurizio Giuliano told the Times that relief workers would not be intimidated by 'threats of insecurity, let alone rumors of such threats.'
Still, any violence would add more strain to relief efforts that have been slow to reach the millions of Pakistanis uprooted by the worst flooding in the country's history. 'We are here for the people and will continue to deliver,' Mr. Giuliano told the New York Times. 'Any potential attack against us would be against the people of Pakistan, whom we are here to assist.'
Hard-line groups in Pakistan have tried to assert their influence amid the chaos created by the floods, with the Taliban urging people to reject aid from the United States and Islamic groups stepping in to provide aid in the breach left by the government's faltering response.
Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, told the Associated Press that the United States and other groups providing aid had ulterior motives.
'No relief is reaching the affected people, and when the victims are not receiving help, then this horde of foreigners is not acceptable to us at all,' he told AP. 'When we say something is unacceptable to us one can draw his own conclusion.'
Monsoon rains led to flooding that began in late July in Pakistan. An estimated 1,600 people have been killed and about 17 million have been affected across the country, according to United Nations estimates.
Earlier this week the United Nations said 3.5 million people in Pakistan were relying on contaminated water for drinking, bathing and washing. The United Nations' refugee agency this week nearly tripled its target for financing emergency shelters, to $120 million from $41 million.