YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Pakistan Says 50 Killed in Airstrike on Terror Camp

Most of the dead are believed to be foreign militants. Residents claim civilians also died.

September 10, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Air force jets bombed what the military called a terrorist training facility in the South Waziristan tribal region Thursday, killing at least 50 people and wounding about 20 others.

Pakistani officials said the heavily guarded camp near Dila Khula, northeast of South Waziristan's administrative center of Wana, had been under surveillance for some time.

One official estimated that 35 to 40 of the dead were foreign militants and the rest fighters from local tribes. Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, an army spokesman, said the camp's two mud-brick buildings were destroyed.

Residents acknowledged that militants were in the area but said some civilians also were killed when they went to retrieve bodies and were hit by a second round of bombing.

A military spokesman said any local residents who were killed were involved in militant activity.

"There were confirmed reports of training activity being conducted by foreign elements, including Uzbeks, Chechens and a few Arabs," a military statement said.

"The foreign elements operating in these tribal areas have links with Al Qaeda," Sultan said.

South Waziristan, on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, is considered a likely hiding place for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman Zawahiri.

The bombing followed a recent spurt in attacks on security forces. At least eight civilians were killed and 10 others wounded in what the military said was an exchange of fire between security forces and militants Wednesday in Wana.

Pakistan, which is an ally in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, has deployed tens of thousands of troops along the Afghan border to fight Al Qaeda and Taliban militants operating there.

Los Angeles Times Articles