Increasing attacks on Pakistan civilians are possible war crimes

Amnesty International on Monday condemned the increasing number of attacks on civilian targets by Pakistani insurgent groups, including on an internally displaced people’s camp in Kohat on 17 April that killed at least 41 people as they queued for relief supplies.  This bombing was followed by the deaths of 24 people in two separate attacks in Peshawar on Monday, one on a high school and the other in Peshawar’s central Qissakhani bazaar.”The Pakistani Taleban and other insurgent groups seem to be escalating their attacks on civilians, in clear violation of the laws of war. Such attacks could constitute war crimes,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. “The Taleban and other insurgent groups are subject to the international laws of war, and they must cease targeting of civilians. Meanwhile the Pakistani government has to do a better job of providing security and provisions for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced during the conflict.” The Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack in Kohat.Those killed were mostly people from the Orakzai tribal area. Ongoing conflict between the Pakistani Taleban and government forces in northwestern Pakistan has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.Recent fighting in Orakzai and Kurram tribal agencies, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, has displaced an additional 200,000 people.The United Nations has suspended emergency relief operations in the immediate area as a result of the blasts. The security situation remains bleak for civilians caught between the Taleban and government forces in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. 3.1 million people were displaced last year in North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas.All sides in the conflict, including the Pakistan government, are bound by the international laws of war to protect civilians from the effects of armed attack.