Thousands flee Pakistan tribal belt

Around 135,000 people have fled area bordering Afghanistan to escape fighting.

    More than 460 fighters and 22 soldiers have died since military operations started a week ago [AFP]

    Rising death toll

    "We have directed officials in adjoining districts to provide shelter, food and health care to the migrating families. We are setting up more camps to help these people just like refugees."

    More than 460 suspected fighters and 22 army troops, have died since Pakistani forces started military operations in Bajaur a week ago, officials say.

    Abdul Rehman Malik, the head of Pakistan's interior ministry, said intelligence sources claim that about 3,000 fighters remain in the northwestern region of Bajaur. He also said they included Pakistanis, Afghans and Central Asians.

    Malik also vowed to "wipe out" the fighters.

    Witnesses said that thousands of families had arrived in Shabqadar, a small town adjoining the tribal belt. Local residents and welfare groups were raising funds and cooking food for them, they said.

    Local residents in the Mammoond area of Bajaur have said that pro-Taliban fighters had banned people from migrating, saying that if they left the area it would be a sign of defeat.

    'Taliban leader killed'

    Pakistani authorities are investigating whether a senior Taliban leader was among nine suspected fighters killed near the Afghan border, officials have said..

    According to Mohammed Khan, a government official, helicopter gunships fired on the group near Khar, the main town in Bajur on Thursday during a military offensive.

    Khan said the targeted vehicles had previously been in the use of Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, who is believed to be an associate of Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda's second-in-command 

    However, late on Thursday, Faqir Mohammed's spokesman claimed he had escaped the attack.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    When somebody dies lonely and alone, Miyu Kojima steps in to clean their home and organise the mementos of their life.

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    The rise of the Orthodox Church in Russia appears unstoppable, write filmmakers Glen Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to investigate the close ties between the church and Putin.

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    Much of India's media spurns a scoop about the son of PM Modi's right-hand man. Plus, NFL as platform for race politics.