Amputees bear lifelong cost of Pakistan's conflict

Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:26am EDT
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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Fourteen-year-old Asmit Ali has no hands -- they were blown off while he was playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance 10 days ago.

The Pakistani schoolboy, his face dotted with scars from the explosion, sits on a plastic chair outside his ward at a field hospital run by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

His body is limp, his abdomen and the stumps of his hands are bandaged and he is barely able to speak.

"He found something -- it looked like the cap of a thermos flask -- and brought it home and he was playing with it when it exploded," says his father, Shaukat Ali, whose four-year-old daughter was also hurt.

Ali and his family returned to their home in Maidan in the Lower Dir district this month after fleeing the area in April when the Pakistani army began an offensive against Taliban militants.

For three months, they lived in a rented room in Peshawar, the main city in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, waiting for authorities to tell them it was safe to go back.

When they did return, they wished they had not.

"These things should have been removed before we were told it was safe to return," says Ali, who was a jewjewelereller before the conflict began, but who now has no business with his shop looted and home damaged in shelling.

"BLOOD EVERYWHERE"   Continued...

<p>Asmit Ali, 14, sits outside his ward where he is being treated at a field hospital by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) in Peshaswar August 28, 2009. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood</p>