Pakistan asks militants to lay down arms as operation continues in tribal region
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Islamabad, Oct 1, IRNA
Pakistan military and paramilitary troops continued their operation in the country's tribal region for a third day on Saturday with Pakistan Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao asking the militants to lay down their arms and surrender to the authorities.
The operation was launched in North Waziristan tribal region on Thursday on a tip that militants were hiding in the area and there was a huge cache of weapons there, Sherpao said.
The operation was launched in Khatai Kalee area, some 7 kilometers away from Miran Shah, the headquarters of North Waziristan.
"We ask the militants to surrender and lay down their arms, otherwise the military operation will continue, the interior minister told the private ARY television.
The operation will force the militants to surrender if they refuse to voluntarily give up their arms and end resistance, Sherpao said.
He confirmed the death of five security men during the operation.
The minister said that around 25 militants have also been killed in the operation.
TV channels reported that the authorities have asked women and children to leave the area to avoid civilian casualties.
A report said five dead bodies of suspected militants were shifted to Miran Shah.
The army is using helicopters to target suspected hideouts of the militants.
Witnesses in Miran Shah said that helicopters were making sorties in the Khatai Kalee area.
They said that the suspected militants were returning fire at security forces.
Local journalists say that almost all shops remained closed in Miran Shah and in the neighboring main city of Mir Ali.
Tribal elders are trying to convince the authorities to stop the operation and find a negotiated settlement.
A member of the National Assembly from North Waziristan, Maulana Nek Zaman, is lobbying for a peaceful solution to the problem but has not yet succeeded.
The Pakistan military believes that foreign militants are being given shelter in the region but local tribal elders say there is no foreigner in the area.
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