Dust storm offers refuge in Pakistan
02:47 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Troops kill at least 15 militants in North Waziristan's capital, the military says

More than 450,000 people have fled area since the campaign began on June 15

376 insurgents have been killed in 16 days of fighting, Pakistan's army says

The Pakistani Taliban are among the targets

CNN  — 

Pakistani troops launched a ground offensive against militants in the capital of the country’s North Waziristan area Monday, starting a new phase of a 16-day fight that has seen more than 450,000 people flee the area.

Troops killed at least 15 militants as the army raided homes in the area’s capital, Miranshah, the country’s military said.

This is the first major ground offensive in Miranshah since Pakistan began what was primarily an airstrike campaign against anti-government fighters in North Waziristan and other restive parts of Pakistan’s loosely governed tribal areas.

The offensive, which started on June 15, is meant to “finish off” militants in the area near the Afghanistan border “once and for all,” Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told CNN this month. The Pakistani Taliban are among the targets.

The tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan are a base for anti-government militants, including those with the Islamist Haqqani movement.

More than 376 militants have been killed and 61 suspected militant hideouts have been destroyed in the campaign, the army said. Three Pakistani troops were injured in Monday’s raids in Miranshah, the army said.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes to camps in Pakistan’s nearby Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province since the campaign began, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority said.

About 466,000 people, including 197,013 children, have registered at checkpoints, the agency said.

Rations, including food and cooking oil, are being given to the civilians at the camps, the army said.

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