Operation likely in tribal areas

Published July 13, 2007

TANK/PESHAWAR, July 12: The army started deploying troops in NWFP’s southern districts, adjoining the Waziristan region, amid reports that an operation to curb militancy and extremism was imminent.

Sources told Dawn on Thursday that 12,000 troops, backed by artillery units, were moved to Tank and Dera Ismail Khan districts from Okara.

Troops took over the building of a vocational college in Tank city and were stationed in paramilitary forts in the remote district. Security forces were also being deployed in Lakki Marwat and Bannu districts, considered to be hotbed of militancy.

Besides, troops have also been stationed in the northern Swat and Lower Dir districts. Security officials said that two army divisions were being deployed in the NWFP and tribal areas.

Local Taliban expressed resentment over the troops’ redeployment in North Waziristan. They asked the government to pull troops back by July 15 and threatened that if it was not done, they would not abide by the peace agreement.

Militants’ spokesman Abdullah Farhad accused the government of violating the peace agreement signed on September 5, 2006, under which it had to withdraw all troops.

Sources said that soldiers reinforced their positions around Miramshah town, headquarters of the North Waziristan Agency, and started checking vehicles, looking for heavy arms.

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