Pakistani warplanes pounded the Orakzai and Khyber Agencies today, killing at least 21 people and wounding a large number of others. Several homes were destroyed in the attacks, which Pakistani officials said were aimed at “terrorists.”
Local tribal leaders had a completely different version of the story, however, saying that that the planes were bombarding densely populated civilian areas and that a large number of innocent tribesmen were among the slain.
Officials claimed that the ongoing Orakzai offensive has been hugely successful, and that “over 92 percent” of the agency is now completely free of militants. Since this is neither the first time they’ve made a claim of clearing the area nor even the first offensive against Orakzai in the past few years, this is likely to be a very temporary gain.
Offensives against the tribal areas initially drove massive numbers of civilians out, but as it became clear that those offensives were not the short-term plans they were couched as, most of them have returned and are simply dealing with the constant threat of air strikes.