Click to view Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan in a larger map.
The Pakistani military has claimed that more than 250 “terrorists” and zero civilians have been killed during the first week of military operations in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
According to press releases published between June 15-21 on the website of the Inter-Services Public Relations, the public affairs arm of the Pakistani military, 257 “foreign and local terrorists,” “Uzbek foreigners,” “foreigners,” and “ETIM terrorists,” a reference to the Turkistan Islamic Party, a Central Asia terror group, have been killed.
The military states that no civilians have been killed in the weeklong operation, a stunning claim given the historical lack of precision by Pakistani attack helicopters and strike aircraft, and the environment in which groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and other jihadist groups are operating. These groups often live in compounds that include women and children.
The Pakistani government has not identified a single “terrorist” killed in the weeklong operation, which has used “precise and targeted air strikes” from attack helicopters and fighter-bombers against “hardcore Terrorists hideouts.” The Pakistani military’s claims are impossible to corroborate, as the media is forbidden from reporting from North Waziristan during the operation. The Pakistani media has repeated the military’s claims uncritically.
The largest airstrike, on June 15, supposedly killed 140 “terrorists” and zero civilians.
“Most of those killed are Uzbeks,” a reference to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the press release continues. “Many ETIM [Turkistan Islamic Party] terrorists and their affiliates have also been killed in the strikes. It was a massive blow to the terrorists and one of their main communication centre has been dismantled.”
Another 25 “foreign and local terrorists were killed” in airstrikes that targeted “Terrorist’s [sic] hideouts including a training camp and an IED making factory around Hasokhel.” Again, no civilians were reported killed.
In the past, such airstrikes on large gatherings, compounds, and camps by US drones have resulted in civilian casualties. The remotely piloted drones are far more accurate than Pakistani strike aircraft, and often hover over targets for hours or days to gather intelligence before striking.
The Pakistani government has yet to to publicly identify the exact target of the operation. None of the military’s statements released so far name the Haqqani Network or Hafiz Gul Bahadar’s Taliban groups as targets of the operations. These two groups, despite sheltering and supporting al Qaeda, IMU, TIP, and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, are considered “good Taliban” by political and military officials as they do not advocate attacking the Pakistani state. [See LWJ report, Pakistan launches ‘comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists’ in North Waziristan, and Threat Matrix report, Pakistani forces focus on ‘foreigners’ in North Waziristan operation, for more detail on the operation and “good Taliban” vs. “bad Taliban”.]
ISPR press releases: