Tens of thousands of Pakistanis have sought shelter at a sprawling refugee camp in a volatile region of Afghanistan after crossing the mountainous border to escape a military onslaught against insurgents.
The Pakistani offensive was launched last June after a militant attack on Karachi`s international airport. The government warned residents to flee, and some 93,000 families-up to 750,000 people- have been displaced inside Pakistan.
“The Taliban come at night to place bombs on the roads, which explode and kill soldiers as well as local people, so then the government comes in to hit them back,” said Shir Azia, a tribal elder from Miran Shah, in North Waziristan.
Afghan officials say these fighters aren`t engaging in combat, but their arrival comes as a robust Taliban insurgency confronts the government in Kabul. Islamic State, which occupies swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, has also sought a foothold here. A tribal elder from Helmond`s district of Sangin, Haji Abdul Azizi, said he hosted a family of Arabic speakers for a night last week who said they were loyal to the Islamic State militant group.
“They were six men, seven women and two chidren,” he said. “They were speaking Arabic and two of them also understood Pashto.” The women of the group were armed and took turns keeping watch on each other duringthe night, Azizi said.