PESHAWAR - More than 1,50,000 people have fled from northwest Pakistan’s lawless Tribal Areas as the military launched a fresh offensive against Taliban militants, officials said on Friday.
Pakistan launched an operation in Khyber agency in October against militants who had taken a sanctuary there after fleeing Taliban strongholds in North Waziristan where military started a large-scale operation against them in mid-June.
“Since October 13, 171,559 people have moved from Khyber to Peshawar and Kohat,” Tribal Disaster Management Department spokesman Haseeb Khan told AFP, referring to two cities that border the tribal region.
He said that a few of the displaced people had chosen to stay at government-run camps while most of them were staying with relatives. At least 800,000 people fled fighting in North Waziristan when the Army began their offensive against militants in June.
The displaced poured into nearby towns where they faced overcrowding, a lack of food rations and high rents. The long-awaited Army offensive against militant strongholds in the country’s northwest was launched in June after a brazen attack on Karachi Airport ended stuttering peace talks between the government and the Taliban.
Separately, Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Mehtab Ahmed Khan said that some 36,000 families who had fled to Afghanistan during the Army operation, had return to Pakistan.
“Targeted operations against militants are progressing successfully in Tribal Areas of Pakistan and on the conclusion of these operation we will honourably resettle all displaced people,” he said during a meeting with the elders of North Waziristan.
More than 1,100 militants and 100 soldiers have been killed since the start of the long-awaited operation against the Taliban strongholds and more than 100 militants have surrendered, according to the military.