Pakistan military launches ground operation at North Waziristan militant stronghold

 

Asia Correspondent

Pakistan's military says it has launched a ground offensive in the militant stronghold of North Waziristan after two weeks of air strikes and bombardments. More than 450,000 people have fled their homes in anticipation of the operation.

In a statement issued today, the armed forces said it had carried out an initial operation in the city of Miranshah, capital of the tribal area that borders Afghanistan.

“After the evacuation of all the civil population, a ground operation commenced in and around Miranshah early morning today,” said the statement. “A house to house search of Miranshah town is being carried out by infantry troops and the special service group.”

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was elected last summer following a campaign during which he proposed peace talks with the Taliban as part of a broader, regional initiative. His government held several meetings with representatives of the main militant faction but they failed to make much progress.

On 15 June, the armed forces began a series of airstrikes against supposed militant positions in North Waziristan. They followed a deadly, embarrassing attack on Karachi airport by militants which left more than 30 people dead and raised more questions about the utility of the government’s policy.

The US and other western countries have long pushed the Pakistan military to confront Taliban and al-Qa’ida militants who, in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, have established a stronghold in the partly autonomous tribal areas.

But at least some elements with the military and intelligence establishment, and indeed within the broader Pakistan state, consider some militant groups to be a useful proxy force, especially in relation to the country’s strategic relationship with Afghanistan.

Since the air operation began, 376 militants have been killed and a further 19 have surrendered, the military said. It said many of those killed were ethnic Uzbeks or Chinese Uighurs. A total of 17 Pakistani soldiers have been killed. It is all but impossible to confirm the claims of the military given that the media only has very limited access to the area where the operation is taking place.

Mohammad Yasin, a resident of Qutabkhel village, close to Miranshah, was among a handful of residents who have stayed on, despite the operation. He said that today was the first time he had seen ground troops leave their heavily guarded base since the operation began.

“Before leaving the army camp, the security forces targeted adjoining villages and Miranshah bazaar through artillery and tanks and then two helicopters were seen shelling the same area where the troops later conducted house-to-house searches,” he told the Reuters news agency.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world