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Anti-Taliban Offensive Concluded in Pakistan's NW

The Pakistani army says it has successfully concluded military operations against Taliban fighters in the country's northwest.

The army released a statement Tuesday, saying its offensive in the Orakzai tribal region, which began in March, is over and that displaced residents can now return home. More than 200,000 people reportedly left the area during the fighting.

Many of the militants in Orakzai were believed to have fled an earlier military operation in the South Waziristan tribal region.

Pakistani officials have said at least 600 militants and 20 soldiers have been killed in Orakzai since the offensive began. But the death toll can not be confirmed because the remote area is off-limits to journalists and other independent observers.

The army said that its chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, visited Kurram and Orakzai tribal agencies on Tuesday, where he met with Pakistani troops and reassured local tribal leaders that normalcy will be restored in the area.

Last year, the Pakistani army began a very public military campaign to flush out Taliban militants in Swat Valley and surrounding areas. The army says the region is secure, but there are reports of ongoing skirmishes.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.