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Pakistan kills rebels near Afghan border

January 16, 2007|From Reuters

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — The Pakistani army launched an airstrike on a militant camp in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan, killing most of the 25 to 30 militants present, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said today.

"The operation was carried out ... in Zamzola in South Waziristan, based on information that 25 to 30 miscreants, including foreigners, were present there," Sultan said.

He said missiles were fired at mud-walled compounds housing the militants, and helicopter gunships were used afterward. No ground troops took part.

South Waziristan has long been a hotbed of support for the Taliban and the Al Qaeda terrorist network, despite an army campaign begun in late 2003 to clear them out.

Pro-Taliban militants in the semiautonomous tribal region recruited men and boys to fight in Afghanistan.

In September, the government struck a peace deal with tribal elders in neighboring North Waziristan. Afghan, U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan are concerned that agreement will result in militants gaining strength.

Pakistan has lost hundreds of troops fighting in the Waziristan region and has been trying to find ways to isolate the militants to reduce the risk of sparking a wider conflict in the tribal areas.

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