Pakistan jet fighters and helicopter gunships have pounded what the military call a terrorist training camp near the Afghan border, killing dozens of people including civilians, local witnesses say. Around 40 members of Afghanistan's ousted Taliban militia and allied Islamic militants were attacked on Thursday near the village of Laggimanzai, 25 km (15 miles) northeast of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, said villager Ajab Nur. He told Reuters that many civilians had also been killed in a subsequent air strike when they gathered to survey the damage in the village around 50 km (30 miles) from the Afghan border. "There was a gathering of about 40 or so militants early this morning," said Nur. "Two bombs fell on them. Then villagers went to see what had happened ... and there was a second attack and many people were killed." Residents and local media estimated that around 50 people had died, but authorities had yet to give any casualty figures, informs Reuters. According to NDTV, launching a major strike, Pakistan Air Force bombers and helicopter gunships today pounded an Al-Qaida training camp for foreign militants killing 70 terrorists and tribesmen near the border with Afghanistan. Mostly Chechen, Uzbek and Arab militants were killed in the raid conducted after receiving confirmed reports about the camp near Dila Khula, a village 25 km northeast of South Waziristan's main town of Wana. "These trained terrorists were indulging in sabotage and terrorist acts in the country," the military said in a statement. "The facility was successfully knocked out through a precisely targeted operation which lasted for about two hours this morning", Defence spokesman Shaukat Sultan said. Private Geo TV quoted defence officials as saying that 70 people were killed when jets bombed the area. An unconfirmed report said Taliban militants were holding a meeting when the raid took place. Among the dead were some tribesmen. The camp was located at Dila Khula district, about 60km from the border and 25km north-east of Wana, the main city in the tribal district of South Waziristan. The raid, which lasted around two hours, was based on reports of training activity by "foreign elements" including Uzbeks, Chechens and some Arabs. Local residents reported seeing bombs and missiles dropped from fighter planes on a prayer gathering. "People had gathered for morning prayers when a missile struck their compound at around 6.30am (01h30 GMT)," resident Azizullah said. "It was followed by aerial bombardment resulting in the killing of more than 50 people." A security official who asked not be named said only one guided missile was fired at the gathering by ground troops. The area is a stronghold of the rebellious Mehsud tribe. The latest offensive comes a day after a shootout between militants and security forces in Wana bazaar, in which eight people were killed. The military destroyed several suspected al-Qaeda hideouts and training camps in a major air and ground offensive in June in the nearby Shakai valley. The June raids left at least 65 militants and 18 soldiers dead, reports IOL.
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