News / Asia

Pakistani Army Launches Offensive Near Afghan Border

FILE - A Pakistan army soldier mans at a vehicle during a curfew in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.
FILE - A Pakistan army soldier mans at a vehicle during a curfew in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.
Reuters
Residents of Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun region of North Waziristan accused government troops on Monday of killing dozens of civilians during a military operation against Taliban insurgents.
 
The operation started just after a Dec. 18 suicide bomb attack on a checkpoint in North Waziristan, a stronghold for al-Qaida-linked Taliban militants on Pakistan's mountainous border with Afghanistan.
 
Speculation that the army might launch a major offensive in the frontier tribal areas has been building as the government's attempts to engage the Pakistani Taliban in peace talks have floundered in recent months.
 
Military officials said at least 23 militants had been killed in clashes with security forces in the Mir Ali region of North Waziristan following the suicide attack.
 
Pakistani authorities imposed a curfew across the lawless region and residents said many people had fled from their homes after days of shelling and raids by helicopter gunships.
 
Resident Muhammed Tayyab said he lost three of his children and his wife in the shelling.
 
“On the first day of the attack an artillery shell hit the room where my kids and wife were sleeping,” said Tayyab. “The government has put them to sleep forever.”
 
Residents put the civilian death toll at several dozen.
 
“From the first day of the attack until now 70 civilians have been killed,” said a tribal elder in Mir Ali who declined to be identified for fear of state reprisals.
 
“Some truck drivers and hotel and shop keepers were shot directly, and dozens were killed by gunships, mortars, and artillery shelling on the civilian population.”
 
The army has not yet made any comment on the allegations of civilian deaths in North Waziristan.
 
Reports from North Waziristan are hard to verify independently because journalists and observers are not allowed to work on the ground in the heavily militarized region.
 
The Pashtun lands along the Afghan border have never been brought under the full control of any government.
 
Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur said insurgents would respond by launching a full scale counter offensive on army positions if attacks against civilians did not stop on Monday.
 
Residents said bodies were left in the open in the villages of Mosaki and Hasukhel as terrified villagers fled the area.
 
“We are moving our families to keep them safe but the army's mortars and shells are following us,” said Asad Sher of Mir Ali. “Please tell us where is safe. The army is demolishing our homes and bazaars.”
 
Malik Gul Salehjan, another man, said, “my children are asking me for bread but I am not able to give them anything because there is nothing in my house.”
 
A North Waziristan administration official said tribal elders and army representatives convened a jirga, or meeting, on Monday to try to find a negotiated end to hostilities.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs