Thousands flee North Waziristan amid military operation

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Thousands flee North Waziristan amid military operation

Military pounds suspected hideouts of militants in Mir Ali and Miranshah subdivisions of the agency during last one week.

By Afzal Khan

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Published: Mon 24 Feb 2014, 11:43 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 12:43 AM

Thousands of tribesmen have fled North Waziristan Agency since last month as fears of a military operation in the area grew after F-16 fighters and helicopter gunships pounded suspected hideouts of militants in Mir Ali and Miranshah subdivisions of the agency during last one week, a media report said.

A policeman speaks with an internally displaced family on its arrival in Bannu from North Waziristan. — AFP

The army operations are being conducted in retaliation to the brutal beheading of 23 captive personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC) by the Taleban.

The Mohmand affiliate of the Tehreek-i-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the slaying of security personnel arousing countrywide revulsion and resent.

The episode has generated a widespread support for the military operation against terrorists.

Political Agent of North Waziristan tribal agency, Siraj Ahmad Khan, told journalists on Saturday that he had directed political administration officials to tell the tribesmen not to leave the agency as there was no fear of an operation.

“A military operation is not imminent and there is no need for the tribesmen to flee,” Siraj claimed.

Another political administration official said a large number of tribesmen have started migrating from Saidgi, Bangi Dar, Mada Khel, Kucha Mada Khel, Mezar and Manzar Khel areas of Ghulam Khan and Shawal tehsils, while residents of Khushalai Tori Khel, Edak and Haider Khel have left Mir Ali tehsil and a large number of tribesmen have started to vacate homes in villages in the agency headquarters of Miranshah.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the political administration official confirmed that many residents as well as Afghan citizens living there for over two decades were trying to shift to Afghanistan.

Jalal, an Afghan elder who has been living in Ghulam Khan tehsil along with 50 other families for the last 30 years, said the families were trying to shift to Khost, Paktia and Paktika provinces of Afghanistan close to Pakistan border due to the deteriorating law and order situation.

In the mass exodus, passenger van driver Sultan Khan of Miranshah said that he was also shifting residents to Bannu.

He said that people were fleeing along with their children and women, leaving behind a member of family to take care of valuables in their homes.

He added that in the present situation, rate for transportation has jumped from Rs150 per head to Rs300.

The exact number of people evacuating could not be ascertained, as none of the political administration officials were aware of the accurate figure.

The political administration officials also declined to comment, as some remain in denial that there is a mass exodus taking place.

However, local tribesmen said nearly 50,000 tribesmen have fled the agency since last month.

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