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U.S. concerned about threats against foreign aid workers in Pakistan

By Laurie Ure, CNN State Department Producer
Flood survivors wait in line to recieve water relief supplies in Pabi, Pakistan.
Flood survivors wait in line to recieve water relief supplies in Pabi, Pakistan.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • At least 17 million Pakistanis have been affected by monsoon floods
  • An army of foreign aid workers has moved into Pakistan to help
  • The U.S. government has obtained information about threats against those workers

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. government has obtained information about threats against foreign aid workers who are assisting in flood relief efforts in Pakistan, the State Department said Thursday.

"We are concerned that extremist elements within Pakistan may decide to attack foreigners who are in Pakistan helping the people of Pakistan, or may choose at this time to attack government institutions in Pakistan that are responding on behalf of the Pakistani people," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.

Crowley wouldn't discuss specific intelligence but said, "We're in possession of threat information" from groups including the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, the main Taliban militant organization in Pakistan working against that country's government.

"We are working with the government of Pakistan to deal with that threat, but it is something that we are watching very carefully," he said.

At least 17 million Pakistanis have been affected by the monsoon floods that began a month ago, and more rain is expected over the next 24 hours. Thousands remain at risk in the flood-ravaged nation.

Crowley said the United States is doing everything it can to ensure that the U.S. and Pakistani disaster response can continue despite the threat.

Recent high-profile visitors to Pakistan include Dr. Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat; and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Wednesday, Army Brig. Gen. Mike Nagata, the deputy commander of the U.S. military unit in Pakistan, said that in the three weeks since they have been conducting missions there has been no security threat against them.

The United States has pledged $200 million in aid to Pakistan's relief and recovery efforts. So far, almost 2 million pounds of relief supplies have been delivered to Pakistani victims, according to the State Department.

Thirty countries have pledged over $700 million in aid to Pakistan, according to the State Department.

In a statement, the United Nations said, "We would find it inhumane for someone to target us and our work, effectively harming the millions of people whose life we strive to save. Our agenda is a global one, which should unite all humanity to save lives."

"It just underscores the bankrupt vision that these extremists have," Crowley said. "It demonstrates their disregard for the welfare of the people of Pakistan."

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