Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
01:56 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
International
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Thousands of Pakistanis flee tribal belt fearing more air strikes
Reuters
Internally displaced Pakistani tribal civilians, fleeing from military operations against Taliban militants in North Waziristan, arrive in a van loaded with mattresses and other belongings in Bannu, a town on the edge of Pakistan's lawless tribal belt of Waziristan on January 28, 2014. AFP PHOTO/KARIM ULLAH
Internally displaced Pakistani tribal civilians, fleeing from military operations against Taliban militants in North Waziristan, arrive in a van loaded with mattresses and other belongings in Bannu, a town on the edge of Pakistan's lawless tribal belt of Waziristan on January 28, 2014. AFP PHOTO/KARIM ULLAH
A+ A-

BANNU, Pakistan: Thousands of villagers have fled their homes in Pakistan's North Waziristan region, fearing a major military operation by armed forces after they said dozens of people had been killed in air strikes targeting Islamist militants earlier this month.

The government says all those who were killed in the swift Jan. 21 operation were militants, but local residents in the volatile region bordering Afghanistan said the death toll included many civilians.

The Pakistani army was not available to comment on the possibility of further operations.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been under intense pressure from hawks within his administration to take aggressive military action against the Taliban after his efforts to engage them in talks floundered in recent months.

The air strikes last week came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber killed 13 people in a crowded market near the capital Islamabad and two days after the Pakistani wing of the Islamist militant group killed 20 troops in the northwest town of Bannu.

Fearing another offensive by armed forces, a wave of refugees left the region to take shelter in schools, private homes and veterinary clinics in the normally more peaceful areas of Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan on the edge of the tribal belt.

A senior official in Bannu said 23,000 refugees had fled to the town.

"Innocent women and children were hit in the air offensive in North Waziristan," said Janaat Bibi, 90, a refugee in Bannu, who added that she was suffering from high fever.

"We walked on foot for several kilometres at night until the bombing died down. Then we got a lift on a tractor and arrived in Bannu."

People in North Waziristan, a rugged land of rocky mountains and steep valleys that is home to several al Qaeda-linked groups, live in constant fear of being targeted by both the Taliban and government troops.

"They are moving their families in anticipation of an army operation," said a government relief official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"There is no operation going on and we as a government body have not been informed about it either, but the people seem to be afraid. They want to flee before there is a state of emergency."

Many refugees in Bannu said the government had made no arrangements to provide them with shelter.

A charity wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, a radical Islamist organisation, was seen distributing rations and blankets to the refugees - a frequent sight in Pakistan where Islamist groups often step in to offer relief during crises.

"We were forced to leave our house behind by the heavy pounding of the jets. On our way to Bannu we were harassed at several check posts by security officials," said Najeebullah, 26, who fled with 25 members of his family.

"We will not return to our homes unless were are satisfied that there will be no more bombings."

 
Home International
 
     
 
Pakistan
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Story Summary
The government says all those who were killed in the swift Jan. 21 operation were militants, but local residents in the volatile region bordering Afghanistan said the death toll included many civilians.

The Pakistani army was not available to comment on the possibility of further operations.

The air strikes last week came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber killed 13 people in a crowded market near the capital Islamabad and two days after the Pakistani wing of the Islamist militant group killed 20 troops in the northwest town of Bannu.

A senior official in Bannu said 23,000 refugees had fled to the town.
Related Articles
 
 
Karzai condemns air strike over 'civilian casualties'
 
 
Algerian army operations kills 6 militants
 
 
Suspected Qaeda militants kill deputy governor in central Yemen
Entities
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Saturday April 19, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Why Israeli-Palestinian talks fail
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS