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Pakistan: 80,000 flee northwest offensive

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Photo - A Pakistani tribal girl sits next to her belongings on a truck after arriving to Bannu, Pakistan, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Thousands of villagers fled as Pakistani army relax a curfew in troubled North Waziristan. Pakistani jets pounded targets in the country's northwest in major offensives  designed to root out safe havens in the volatile region. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
A Pakistani tribal girl sits next to her belongings on a truck after arriving to Bannu, Pakistan, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Thousands of villagers fled as Pakistani army relax a curfew in troubled North Waziristan. Pakistani jets pounded targets in the country's northwest in major offensives designed to root out safe havens in the volatile region. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani official says that nearly 80,000 people have fled the northwest tribal region since the start of a military offensive there to root out militants.

Arshad Khan, the head of the region's disaster management authority, said the families left North Waziristan Wednesday and Thursday. Residents have been streaming out of the region in vehicles loaded down with possessions.

The military launched the operation Sunday night, saying it was targeting militants who have long used the region as a base from which to launch attacks targeting security forces and civilians.

But a curfew put in place Saturday prevented residents from leaving until it was lifted Wednesday morning.

Even before the operation was announced, about 63,000 people had left North Waziristan because of airstrikes and fear of a larger offensive.

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