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Thousands of Afghans Flee Homes Over Fighting: IOM
KANDAHAR, May25 , 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – More than3 ,000 civilians have fled their homes in southern Afghanistan over US assaults and Taliban attacks, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) said on Thursday, May25 .
"They are scared, they are terrified," Nasim Karim, IOM Kandahar program officer, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
He said inhabitants of four to five villages in Panjwayi district,35 kilometers ( 22miles) west of Kandahar, were caught in the crossfire of heavy battles between the US-led forces and Taliban.
"If they don't support the Taliban, they are threatened. If they do, then from the other side they are being bombed and shot at," said the IOM official.
"They have no choice."
US-led forces have launched a series of attacks in Panjwayi district against what they describe as Taliban followers.
The attacks have caused the Afghan villagers in the area to flee their homes, Karim said.
Most have taken refuge in the main southern city of Kandahar, some arriving destitute and barefoot with their families and a few belongings on trucks, cars and tractors, he added.
About 25 to 30 families at a camp for internally displaced people in the region had also packed up and moved into the city, noted Karim.
More than four hundred people were killed in attacks across Afghanistan since Wednesday, May17 .
The US-led forces describe most of the fatalities as Afghan fighters and followers, a claim usually challenged by Afghans.
An Afghan man from Panjwayi said he fled after US strikes that started Sunday and lasted into Monday.
"I escaped. I brought my children and women to the city," said the man, identifying himself as Abdullah Khan.
"There are still Taliban in the village so there might be more bombardments."
Up to 76 people, many believed to be civilians, were killed on Monday, May22 , in American strikes on the village.