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More than 100,000 flee clashes between Pakistani troops, Islamists

More than 100,000 people have fled the north-west Khyber tribal region since government troops launched a January offensive against Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

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AFP - Over 100,000 people have fled fighting between government troops and Taliban or Al-Qaeda-linked militants in northwest Pakistan since January 20, the UN refugee agency said Friday.

"An estimated 101,160 people, mostly women and children, have become displaced since January 20 when government troops began security operations against militant groups in the Khyber" tribal district, said the UNHCR in a statement.

The agency warned that a recent increase in the intensity of combat was pushing even larger numbers of families to flee the region to Jalozai camp, located close to the western Pakistan city of Peshawar.

An average of 2,000 families have been arriving daily at the camp since March 17, said the UNHCR.

"New arrivals say that they have left their homes because of the proximity of fighting and due to instructions by the authorities to evacuate the area," it added.

Pakistan's seven tribal districts near the Afghan border are rife with homegrown insurgents and are strongholds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives.

Islamist militants have killed almost 5,000 people across Pakistan since government troops raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.

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