Peshawar: Pakistani authorities on Thursday claimed that security forces have cleared parts of the restive Orakzai tribal region of Taliban fighters and people displaced by military operations could start returning to the area from Friday.
A senior administrator of Orakzai Agency, Riaz Mehsud, told reporters that Mashti Mela area has been cleared of the Taliban and that the return of displaced families would begin in phases from Friday.
The parts of Orakzai Agency cleared by the troops were once a stronghold of Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
Though there were reports that Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack, a media report quoting a Pakistani intelligence official said he is still alive.
Troops backed by airpower and artillery launched an operation to flush out militants from Orakzai Agency almost 40 days ago.
Security forces claim to have killed over 450 militants in the offensive but the figure cannot be independently confirmed.