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Red Cross Alarmed by Situation in Pakistan's Swat

Red Cross officials have expressed grave concern about the plight of civilians in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where the Pakistani military is waging war against Taliban fighters.

The officials made the comment Sunday after completing their first assessment of the humanitarian needs of people there, calling the situation alarming.

The head of the Red Cross team, Daniel O'Malley said people trapped in the battleground have little food, and that there is no running water, electricity or fuel for generators.

Pakistani Defense Secretary Syed Athar Ali said Sunday the offensive could end within days.

He told the Asian security summit in Singapore there is a misperception that Pakistan is the source of extremism in the region. He said instability trickled in from neighboring Afghanistan after the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.

The military launched the offensive in the Swat Valley and surrounding districts last month after militants violated a peace deal and advanced within 100 kilometers of the capital, Islamabad.

The United Nations says more than 2.5 million people have fled their homes since the fighting began.

Meanwhile, Pakistani intelligence officials said Sunday the military has killed at least 40 Taliban militants in the restive South Waziristan tribal region along the Afghan border. The officials said at least two government soldiers also died in the fighting.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.