Residents of Pakistan's North Waziristan region have accused government troops of killing dozens of civilians during a military operation against Taliban fighters and the Taliban has threatened a full counter-offensive.

Residents in the North Waziristan region told the Reuters news agency on Monday that dozens of people had been killed by troops, with some shot and other killed by helicopter gunships, mortar attacks and shelling.

On the first day of the attack an artillery shell hit the room where my kids and wife were sleeping. he government has put them to sleep forever.

Muhammed Tayyib, resident.

The fighting began after December 18, when a suicide bomb exploded on a checkpoint in North Waziristan. 

Officials said at least 23 members of armed groups had been killed in clashes with security forces in Mir Ali, but they did not comment on allegations of civilian deaths. Residents put the civilian death toll at several dozen.

Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur said there would be a full scale counter offensive on army positions if attacks on civilians did not stop on Monday.

Previous military operations against the Taliban have been bloody, costly and unpopular.

Residents said on Monday that bodies were left in the open in the villages of Mosaki and Hasukhel.

"We are moving our families to keep them safe but the army's mortars and shells are following us," said Asad Sher of Mir Ali. "Please tell us where is safe. The army is demolishing our homes and bazaars."

There is a curfew, but people have fled their homes to escape the bombardment.

Resident Muhammed Tayyab said he lost three of his children and his wife in the shelling.

"On the first day of the attack an artillery shell hit the room where my kids and wife were sleeping," Tayyab said in a telephone interview.

"The government has put them to sleep forever."

Reports from North Waziristan are hard to verify independently because journalists and observers are not allowed to work on the ground in the heavily militarised region.

Source: Reuters