Pakistani families flee North Waziristan battle zone
Reuters | October 9, 2007
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan --- Thousands of families began fleeing Mir Ali, a town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region, after three days of fierce clashes between militants and security forces killed nearly 200 people, witnesses said Tuesday.
Around 150 militants and 45 soldiers were killed in fighting around Mir Ali.
Families streamed out of the town of 50,000 people and outlying villages, making their way on foot, in tractor trailers and cars.
“Eighty to ninety percent of families of Mir Ali have gone. Just one or two people are staying behind in each house to guard their belongings,” Sher Khan, a resident, told Reuters.
“The main bazaar of Mir Ali is sealed by the army. All shops are closed. We have nothing to eat. That's why I have sent my family to Bannu,” he said, referring to a town in the North West Frontier Province at the tribal region’s gateway.
The latest clashes erupted after militants ambushed a military convoy near Mir Ali late Saturday.
Casualties mounted as the army struck back and pounded militants with helicopter gunships and fighter jets.
The jets destroyed most houses around Essori, a village near Mir Ali where most of the fighting was concentrated.