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Fifteen killed in Pak village raid: officials

Fifteen people were killed in northwestern Pakistan in a raid involving helicopter gunships used by international troops in Afghanistan, security officials said.

world Updated: Sep 03, 2008 13:11 IST

AFP
Hindustantimes
         

Fifteen people including civilians were killed in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday in a raid involving helicopter gunships used by international troops in Afghanistan, security officials said.

"Four helicopter gunships from across the border carried out the raid," a top security official told AFP.

"Reports from the area say 15 people including women and children were killed in the attack," he said.

A local official in South Waziristan tribal district claimed the helicopters dropped soldiers from the NATO-led force in Afghanistan (ISAF) in the border village of Jalal Khel and flew them back after the attack.

The official, Mowaz Khan, said the pre-dawn raid took place as residents were having their last meal before fasting as part of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

He said the foreign soldiers opened fire on the locals when they came out of their houses upon hearing the sound of helicopters.

However, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan said he was not aware of such an operation.

He added that ISAF does not have a mandate to attack outside the borders of Afghanistan unless its troops come under fire from within Pakistan, in which case the force can respond with artillery.

Pakistan's army confirmed there had been an attack.

"We confirm an attack was carried out in a border village and we are gathering details," army spokesman Major Murad Khan told AFP.

Raids with helicopters or aircraft are extremely rare but US media recently reported that the United States was planning direct attacks on Pakistani soil, blaming Islamabad for failing to tackle militants based there.

A recent series of missile strikes targeting rebels in Pakistan has been attributed to US-led coalition forces or CIA drones based in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's northwest has been wracked by violence since hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels fled there after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

US forces say the border area is being used as a launch pad for attacks on coalition troops.

There are about 70,000 international forces deployed under NATO and a separate US-led coalition in Afghanistan in an effort to help local forces repel the Islamic rebels.