PESHAWAR/BANNU - Helicopter gunships and jets pounded militant targets in the northwest tribal belt Saturday, killing up to 30 terrorists, as the number of civilians fleeing a long-awaited offensive in North Waziristan surpassed 300,000.
ISPR in a statement on Saturday said militant hideouts were targeted in Khyber and North Waziristan agencies as a part of ongoing military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’. ISPR Director General Major General Asim Bajwa said tribal elders of North Waziristan have assured them of their full support to the operation.
Residents of NWA have been given one more day to evacuate the area. The last day for leaving the agency was today (Saturday); however, the deadline has been extended to Sunday and the curfew has been relaxed.
Arbab Muhammad Arif, the chief administrator of the tribal areas, told reporters in Peshawar that the total number of people who fled the region has surpassed 300,000. He said the number of refugees is expected to increase as around 300,000 more people are still trapped in North Waziristan.
Since Wednesday when curfew was relaxed, 25,242 families left the agency and were registered at checkpoints along the way, said Arbab. The figure includes 62,000 people who left the area of operations before June 18, he added, saying that displaced families were provided with food, drinks and 5,000 rupees ($50) per family.
The curfew will remain relaxed until Sunday, he said, and the administration is expecting another 100,000 tribesmen and their families to leave. The administration has established displaced persons camps but few have showed up there, preferring to stay with relatives or in rented houses around the border town of Bannu, he said.
An AFP correspondent in Bannu saw hundreds of people walking on foot to the town. The government-run children’s hospital in Bannu is overcrowded with children suffering from diarrhoea. Due to lack of space at the hospital, four to five children were being accommodated in one bed. Around half a dozen children lying outside the hospital were being treated with the drip bags hanging from tree branches.
KPK Senior Minister Sirajul Haq and PDMA Director General Muhammad Tahir Orakzai visited district Bannu to assess the requirements of the IDPs and assure supply of necessary provisions. After a meeting at Bannu Commissioner Office, Siraj said KP government will extend all possible facilities to people affected by military operation.
Siraj said the federal and provincial governments have allocated 12 million rupees for refugees.
The ISPR said that in targeted action by jet fighter planes at around 2am hit two militant positions in Khyber Agency. Resultantly, at least 10 terrorists were killed. The gunship helicopters also targeted militant hideouts in Malik Din Khel area of Bara in Khyber Agency and destroyed two hideouts, it added.
Similarly, at around 5am three hideouts of militants were pounded and destroyed completely at Hassu Khel in North Waziristan Agency. As a result of which, at least 20 terrorists were killed. The ISPR said that all the strikes were made in areas where there is no civil population.