November 01, 2009

250,000 displaced in Pakistan's Waziristan offensive

Press TV - November 1, 2009 17:52:13 GMT

As Islamabad's military operation against pro-Taliban militants in South Waziristan entered its third week, Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmad, chief of the government's Special Support Group, told reporters on Sunday that between 244,000 and 250,000 people living in the region have migrated to the neighboring towns of Dera Ismail Khan and Tank for their lives.

The army had earlier put the number of civilians fleeing the conflict zone in South Waziristan at 200,000. Tens of thousands of people are also trapped in the tribal region with an estimated population of 300,000.

Ahmad says one or two percent of the population preferred to stay in the region to look after their property and that 405 tons of rations have been allocated to them.

Pakistan has claimed a string of successes during its offensive in South Waziristan. However, it is not possible to verify any information provided by the army, since communication lines are down and journalists and aid workers are denied access to the area.

The army says it has killed hundreds of militants since it launched the offensive code-named "The Mother of all Battles" three weeks ago. Pro-Taliban militants, who have carried out retaliatory attacks across Pakistan, deny the claim.

About 30,000 Pakistani troops have been deployed to South Waziristan to take on an estimated 12,000 militants based in the northwestern tribal area.

Islamabad has vowed to clear the region of militants in one month.

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