A “full-fledged” military operation has been launched in the Pakistani tribal area of central Kurram against militants on Sunday, according to sources, and large numbers of local residents have started to flee the area. The sources also said that soldiers were dropped in Zaimukhet and Manato from helicopters and paramilitary forces, with the support of air force, had been carrying out a joint offensive in the valley. Central Kurram is located alongside Tora Bora, believed to be the hub of Al Qaida in Afghanistan. Thousands of security personnel are reportedly taking part in the offensive.
Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik had announced last Wednesday that Pakistani military will soon conduct a military operation against extremists in Kurram tribal region. He added the attempt is to deprive Taliban of one of their major safe havens on the Pak-Afghan border. But he made it clear that the military would not launch an operation in North Waziristan any time soon, saying the forces were too busy combating militants elsewhere. Pakistani military has been criticized heavily in the US, particularly after Osama bin Laden’s death in Pakistan on May 6th, for not doing much against militants on its soil.