The Pakistan Taliban has denied claims by the army that the military has killed 910 “terrorists” and lost 82 soldiers since it launched its June offensive against the group in the tribal northeast near the Afghanistan border.
Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said “in this war only 25 to 30 of our companions have embraced martyrdom”.
In a statement earlier on Wednesday, the military said: “Operation Zarb-e-Azb [Sharp and cutting strike] is progressing as per plan.
“Since start of the operation, 910 terrorists have been killed. 82 soldiers have embraced shahadat [martyrdom] in entire country while fighting against terrorism and 269 were injured.”
The army said security forces have cleared the major towns of Miranshah, Mirali, Datta Khel, Boya and Degan, “which were considered strongholds of terrorists”.
Pakistan’s offensive in the former bastions of the TTP began on June 15 after fighters launched an attack on Pakistan’s busiest airport in Karachi.
The military said it has also carried out 2,274 intelligence-led operations across the country since June, killing 42 rebels and capturing 114 others.
The TTP spokesman said “Pakistan army wants to win this lost war by using the media” and before the operation started the rebels had already shifted their bomb factories and training centres to “safe places”.
The offensive has displaced nearly a million people, who are now living in rented homes or camps miles away from their towns and villages.
The military said it was providing food aid and that its medical staff had treated thousands of those displaced.
The army said it destroyed 27 bomb-making factories, a rocket-manufacturing factory and one ammunition factory but gave no details of civilian casualties despite reports from residents fleeing the fighting indicating numerous civilians have been killed.
The latest announcement by the military comes as opposition politician Imran Khan and anti-government cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri are leading protest rallies over alleged vote fraud in a bid to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down.
The government still enjoys wide support in parliament, however, and Sharif has refused to step down.
The military says it is not taking sides in the crisis.