ISLAMABAD: The army claims to have killed several terrorists on Sunday when fighter jets pounded their hideouts in North Waziristan Agency, as the number of people displaced by the military offensive is inching closer to one million.
The fresh blitz comes as officials say that the number of tribesmen displaced by Operation Zarb-e-Azb has neared one million – almost twice the official estimates of the total population of the restive agency.
According to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement, five terrorist hideouts were destroyed in aerial bombing in Mirali town of North Waziristan. “Several terrorists were killed in the bombardment. Heavy arms and ammunitions were also recovered,” it added.
The military’s media wing said the operation was progressing according to the plan as security forces were tightening the noose around militants in the agency. At least 415 suspected terrorists have been killed since the operation began on June 15 while around two dozen soldiers also lost their lives.
The number of tribesmen displaced by the ongoing military offensive has now reached close to 1 million. According to the official figures, as many as 929,859 internally displaced persons (IDPs), belonging to 80,302 families have so far been registered.
The number of IDPs continues to rise despite initial estimates suggesting that it might not go beyond 600,000 as the official population of North Waziristan is between 400,000 and 500,000.
According to Radio Pakistan, the government has devised a comprehensive plan to ensure the rehabilitation of IDPs. It reported that the government has so far released around Rs8 billion for IDPs while Rs358.236 million have already been distributed among 29,853 families. The government has also announced the donation of its employees’ one-day salary to the IDPs, which amounts to Rs200 million.
An agreement has been signed between a cellular company and the Fata Disaster Management Authority for further distribution of cash among IDPs in a transparent and efficient manner.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2014.