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Pak army destroys 3 Al Qaeda hideouts, kills 30
K J M Varma in Islamabad | January 16, 2007 09:42 IST
Last Updated: January 16, 2007 11:18 IST
Around 30 suspected Al Qaeda militants, including foreigners, were killed when the Pakistani military launched an aerial attack on their hideouts in the South Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.
The raid took place in Zamzula area of the South Waziristan after the military received information about the training activities of foreign militants and their local supporters, Pakistan Army Spokesperson Major General Shaukat Sultan said.
"The operation was launched early on Tuesday morning when the foreign militants and their local facilitators were engaged in training," Sultan, Director General of the Army's Inter-Services Public Relations told TV channels.
He said that aviation helicopters were used in the operation, adding that 25 to 30 militants were present in the area when the attack was launched.
Three of five compounds in the area were destroyed and several militants killed and injured. "I can't give you the exact number of casualties but most of them were believed killed," he said.
There was no independent confirmation of the military claim.
"Their activities were being monitored for some time and the operation was conducted after confirmed reports about their activities were received," the spokesman added.
Sultan said that no one from the security forces was hurt. There had been calm in South Waziristan after a peace deal was signed with the militants and tribesmen in July 2004.
The Pakistani army also signed another peace agreement with militants in the second troubled spot North Waziristan in September 2006.
For almost five years, Pakistani soldiers and paramilitary forces have battled local tribesmen, many believed to be allied with the Taliban and Al Qaeda network, in the fiercely independent mountainous region where central government powers do not reach.
The United States believes that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is also believed to be hiding along the porous Pakistani-Afghan frontier.
Pakistani security officials have said that Arab, Afghan and Central Asian militants allegedly linked with al-Qaeda -- as well as area tribesmen suspected of ties with Afghanistan's radical Taliban militia -- operate in North and South Waziristan.
Pakistan says it has deployed some 80,000 troops in tribal areas along border with Afghanistan to check cross-border movement of militants.
Islamabad has also decided to partly fence and mine its 2,500 kilometers border with Afghanistan, a decision strongly opposed by the Afghan government.