Pakistan army 'punishes civilians'

Amnesty International accuses troops of harassing families fleeing fighting

Civilians trying to flee the conflict zone in South Waziristan may be suffering collective punishment at the hands of the Pakistan army, and some have been banned from major roads, a human rights group has claimed.

Amnesty International said civilian members of the Mehsud tribe, trying to leave the region in rag-tag convoys often travelling on the backs of donkeys, were being unfairly harassed by troops suspicious that militants may be hiding among the refugees.

"Mehsud tribespeople, including women and children, are being punished on the roads as they flee simply because they belong to the wrong tribe," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific director. "This could amount to collective punishment, which is absolutely prohibited under international law."

In Pakistan, the wave of violence that prefaced the army's invasion of the Taliban stronghold continued, more than a week after the troops moved in. A suicide bomber killed eight people at a major air force complex yesterday and many more were wounded in an attack outside a restaurant in the city of Peshawar. In a third incident, up to 17 people travelling to a wedding were killed when their bus struck a landmine.

In the ninth attack on major government targets in the past three weeks, a lone bomber on a bicycle detonated a device at a checkpoint on a road leading to the air base at Kamra, 30 miles from Islamabad. The dead included two soldiers, and more than a dozen people were wounded. Fakhar Sultan Raja, the local police chief told the Associated Press: "The attacker wanted to go inside. He exploded himself when officials wanted to search his body."

Several hours later, in the north-west city of Peshawar, a suicide bomber attacked a complex that includes a restaurant and wedding halls. No one was killed but at least a dozen people were injured, some seriously. Hours later, a bus in the Mohmand tribal region was torn apart, apparently after it drove over a landmine. At least four women and three children were among the 17 people killed, said an official.

Pakistani troops continue to push into South Waziristan in pursuit of Taliban and al-Qa'ida fighters. Militants had warned that they would respond to any operation against them by attacking official targets, but the violence of the past three weeks – attacks included strikes on the army headquarters, UN offices and crowded markets – has unnerved many Pakistanis. This, presumably, is what the militants wish.

What is striking about the slew of attacks is the breadth of targets being struck. The base at Kamra had been identified as a complex where planes designed to carry nuclear warheads are kept, although the military has strongly denied that the base has any such function.

The army's operation in South Waziristan is targeting an estimated 10,000 Taliban previously loyal to the slain militant commander Baitullah Mehsud, along with about 1,000 al- Qa'ida fighters, mainly from Central Asia. The military has imposed a news blackout in the area and prevented journalists from reaching the front line.

But first-hand reports from Amnesty suggest there is considerable harassment of civilians as they try to leave South Waziristan. One member of the Mehsud tribe who spoke to an Amnesty representative outside the town of Tank said he was travelling as part of a group of five families who were trying to leave the area on donkeys but were unable to reach the homes of relatives because of fear of the army.

"We are not allowed to use the roads; the army does not allow any Mehsud to come to the road and use it," he said. "When we left our homes we took some food which we used the first two days and after that we had nothing at all and whatever was left we gave to the children. We drank only tea and water."

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Trainee Recruitmen...

English Teacher, full time, Broadstairs school

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We have an urgent requirement fo...

Science Teacher, full time, Medway school

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education urgently seek...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?