The story

Some 500,000 civilians are expected to flee Pakistan's Swat Valley, heeding a government evacuation order issued Tuesday ahead of an expected military offensive in the Taliban-dominated region.

Dr. Lal Noor Afridi said many people "panicked" when they heard the order and quickly fled, including many women and children in the Swat town of Saidu Sharif. At least 18 civilians were wounded in the town Tuesday, caught in the crossfire between Taliban militants and government forces, he said.

They were treated at the main medical facility in Swat, Saidu Teaching Hospital, where Afridi is the medical superintendent. He spoke to CNN from his home during a curfew. Read full article »

CNN's Samson Desta and Ivan Watson contributed to this report.

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