1 lakh flee Pak tribal belt as military operation continues

1 lakh flee Pak tribal belt as military operation continues

1 lakh flee Pak tribal belt as military operation continues

About 100,000 people have fled the troubled North Waziristan tribal region as curfew was relaxed in the area where the Pakistan Army has launched an all-out offensive against the Taliban, officials said today.

The Pakistan Army has launched a ground and air offensive in the area known for having hideouts of the al-Qaeda-linked militants. Armed forces have so far killed more than 200 militants in the operation.

About 100,000 people have fled the troubled region since the start of operation on Sunday with the relaxation of a curfew of six days to let civilians move out of the conflict areas, officials said.

The curfew imposed on Sunday was relaxed from 7 am to 5 pm (local time) yesterday, allowing thousands of trapped civilians to leave the area, a security official said.

"The people were allowed to leave after through checking and verification in order to prevent the militants escaping in the garb of civilians," he said.

Chief of FATA Disaster Management Authority Arshad Khan said that more than 92,000 people have already left North Wazirisitan.

"Some 30,000 have reached in Bannu city where arrangements have been made for their temporary settlement," he said.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said at a press conference in Peshawar that over 70,000 displaced people were registered while more were coming.

"We expect more internally displaced persons in the next two days," he said.

Federal minister Qadir Baloch, who was appointed by the government as chief of relief activities for displaced people, said 2,000 vehicles were arranged to transport the people from North Waziristan to Bannu.

Still thousands of people are waiting for transport to leave the area.

There are also confirmed reports from Afghanistan that over 3,000 of people have shifted to its the border provinces.

Some leading Taliban commanders along with their dozens of fighters have also shifted to Afghanistan, sources said.

Taliban are roaming in the Khost bazaar and some other border areas of Afghanistan with their weapons, the source said.

"Mufti Sadiq Noor, well-known North Waziristan militant commander and affiliate of Commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur shifted along with family to Khost from North Waziristan," the source said.

The feared Haqqani militant outfit has already crossed to the other side of the border