Pakistan says 307,501 have fled tribal region

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — The number of Pakistanis who have fled a tribal area bordering Afghanistan where the army is fighting militants has risen to 307,501, officials said Saturday.

Since Wednesday when a curfew was relaxed in North Waziristan, 25,242 families have left the area and registered at checkpoints along the way, said Arbab Muhammad Arif, who heads the administration of seven tribal regions along Afghan border.

The figure includes 62,000 people who left the area of operations before June 18, he added, saying that displaced families were provided with food, drinks and 5,000 rupees ($50) per family.

The curfew will remain relaxed until Sunday, he said, and the administration is expecting another 100,000 tribesmen and their families to leave. The administration has established displaced persons camps but few have showed up there, preferring to stay with relatives or in rented houses around the border town of Bannu, he said.

Meanwhile, the army said in a statement that soldiers of all ranks would donate a day's worth of pay and food rations to help the displaced families.

The Pakistani army launched a long-awaited operation against foreign and local militants in North Waziristan on June 15. It claims to have killed 262 militants and destroyed scores of their hideouts so far.

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