- 15 terrorists killed in Zartatangi mountain heights, eight Uzbek fighters taken down by snipers in Miranshah
- ISPR says evacuation of civil population has started from Miranshah and Ghulam Khan areas
- At least 113,000 people have fled NWA since initial air strikes in May
At least 23 more suspected terrorists were killed in the ongoing Zarb-i-Azb operation launched by the Pakistan Army in North Waziristan tribal region, according to a statement issued by the Inter Services Public relations (ISPR) on its website.
At least 15 suspected terrorists were killed in Zartatangi mountain heights, east of Miranshah in North Waziristan tribal region late on Wednesday when one of the main suspected communication centers of terrorists was targeted by Cobra gunship helicopters of the Pakistan Army.
Meanwhile, eight Uzbek terrorists who were planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on Miranshah-Mirali road were also killed by military snipers.
Security forces were also cordoning off residential areas sheltering suspected terrorists in North Wazirstan tribal region. The military also claimed that several attempts by terrorists to flee from the cordoned off areas were foiled.
The ISPR statement further said that the evacuation of civil population from Miranshah and Ghulam Khan areas of the region had begun on Thursday, adding that checkpoints had been established at various places where internally displaced persons (IDPs) were being provided all administrative support including food items and medicine by security forces.
Moreover, an IDP camp was established at Bannu while the number of registration points at Saidgai post were increased to 20, including 10 for men and women, for speedy and organised evacuation.
113,000 HAVE FLED NWA:
Meanwhile, officials said that at least 113,000 people have fled North Waziristan since initial air strikes began in May.
That represents more than a fifth of North Waziristan’s estimated total population but the true size of the exodus is likely to be even larger, as official figures only count people who register with the authorities. Most of those escaping have gone to the town of Bannu.
Arshad Khan, director general of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Disaster Management Authority, told reporters that 51,000 people had arrived in Bannu since June 18, when a shoot-on-sight curfew was eased to allow civilians to get out.
But significant numbers have also flowed over the porous frontier into eastern Afghanistan.
“So far, an estimated 4,000 families have crossed into eastern Afghan provinces and the displacement is increasing,” an official responsible for monitoring the displacement on the Afghan border said.
“Afghan authorities have yet to prepare a final report but up to now they have provided assistance to 818 Pakistani families.”
Authorities in the eastern Afghan province of Khost have set up a camp to provide displaced people with food and other essentials, the official said.
Akbar Zadran, a senior government official in Khost told a foreign news agency by telephone that 1,000 Pakistani families had been registered by Thursday while thousands more had taken shelter with the local population.
There have been fears that militants could use the cover of the civilian evacuation to slip out of North Waziristan.
Soldiers searched vehicles leaving the area on Thursday leading to long queues of vehicles waiting to get out of Miranshah.
Vehicles are in short supply and owners are cashing in on the sudden demand.
“A vehicle which used to be available for Rs 4,000 now costs Rs 40,000 and even at this fare it is almost impossible to find one,” a resident waiting to move out his family said in Miranshah.
A sombre atmosphere prevailed in the town as people packed up their belongings and loaded them on whatever vehicle they could find. Some were reduced to attempting the 60-kilometre journey to Bannu on foot.
The Pakistani military launched the offensive – a longstanding demand of the United States – on June 15, a week after an attack on Karachi airport killed dozens and marked the end of a troubled peace process.