Zarb-i-Azb: Ground assault delayed

Published June 22, 2014
People fleeing the military offensive against the militants in North Waziristan. — Photo by Reuters
People fleeing the military offensive against the militants in North Waziristan. — Photo by Reuters

PESHAWAR: An extension in curfew delayed a ground operation in North Waziristan, which was expected to be launched on Saturday.

The human dimension continued to aggravate as the number of registered displaced people swelled to over 300,000.

According to the ISPR, air strikes against militants have been extended to Khyber Agency. “The ground offensive will begin as soon as the evacuation process is completed,” an official told Dawn.

The military operation against militants in North Waziristan was launched on June 15 with air strikes on their hideouts. Security officials claimed that over 200 local and foreign militants had been killed in the bombings.

Fata Additional Chief Secretary Arbab Muhammad Arif said at a press briefing here that the curfew would be relaxed on Sunday to ensure evacuation of civilians. “This is a big human tragedy, especially for those who have fled their homes for the sake of the country,” he said.

The ISPR said 30 terrorists were killed in targeted strikes by jets in Khyber and North Waziristan Agencies in the small hours of Saturday.

Jets destroyed two hideouts close to the Afghan border in Khyber Agency, killing 10 terrorists, it said.

Three hideouts were destroyed in Hassu Khel area of North Waziristan, killing 20 terrorists.

However, the official claims could not be confirmed from independent sources.

The Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) said 307,501 people, among them 132,973 children, had been registered at Saidgi checkpoint by Saturday afternoon.

Mobile teams of the National Database and Registration Authority have been deployed to provide computerised national identity cards to the displaced people.

A mass exodus from North Waziristan continued and thousands of displaced men, women and children were waiting in scorching heat on the Bannu-Miramshah road for security clearance. Security personnel give clearance to displaced people to cross into the settled area after verification.

On directives of the government, the FDMA began distribution of Rs7,000 grants for each displaced family on the spot. Another Rs5,000 is given to each family for buying non-food items.

Arbab Arif said the government machinery had been mobilised to facilitate the internally displaced persons (IDPs). He said 20 registration desks, four health mobile units backed by five ambulances and six mobile units of Nadra had been deployed at Saidgi post.

He said health workers were administering polio vaccine drops to children.

He said only 19 families had reached a relief camp in Bakakhel area of North Waziristan.


Distribution of ration


The World Food Programme (WFP) would begin distributing ration among IDPs on Sunday, sources said.

They said a humanitarian hub would be set up at the Bannu Sports Complex where IDPs would get food items, including oil and flour.

The sources said the WFP was distributing food supplements among around a million IDPs from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas living in and off camps. They said the number of humanitarian hubs would be increased, if required.

Earlier, officials had said that relief agencies would not be involved in the operation and the federal government had stopped them from seeking humanitarian assistance for fresh IDPs.

AFP adds: Civilians have fled into Bannu, Peshawar, Kohat and across the border into Afghanistan. The government-run children’s hospital in Bannu was overcrowded with children suffering from diarrhoea.

Due to lack of space in the hospital, up to five children were being accommodated in one bed. Some children lying outside the hospital were being treated with drip bags hanging from tree branches.

The military said all ranks of the army would donate one day’s pay and 30 days’ ration would also be provided for the people fleeing the offensive.


Operation Zarb-i-Azb: Interactive map


Latest: 30,000 soldiers involved in operation - over 250 insurgents killed.


``

Interactive map produced by: Sana Malik | Mahnoor Bari | Gulzar Nayani

Data gathered from ISPR and Dawn

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2014

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