MIRAMSHAH, March 11: Ten people were killed and three others injured in helicopter gunship attack on a seminary in the embattled North Waziristan Agency on Friday night, officials and residents said.
Cobra helicopters carried out the attack in Khatty Kalli, some five kilometres west of the agency headquarters.
The seminary belonged to a wanted cleric, Maulvi Sadiq Noor, who, officials said, spearheaded the recent clashes in the restive agency.
Residents said that two children and three foreigners, probably from the Central Asia, were also among the dead. However, neither their names nor origin of the deceased could not be confirmed. They were buried in the village’s graveyard.
Sources said that Cobra helicopters dropped five bombs on the building. After helicopters attack, troops fired at least 15 rounds of 130mm artillery from its base in Miramshah in the same direction and targeted the building.
Residents said that 10 bodies and three wounded were retrieved from a room of the bomb-hit building where about 250 students were getting religious education.
The authorities also demolished the seminary of Maulavi Abdul Khaliq, a wanted cleric, in Miramshah about three days ago.
The sources said that sorties of Cobra and transport helicopters had been increased between Miramshah and Bannu following the recent clashes.
In a related development security forces have put a complete ban on the display of arms in Miramshah and other areas of the agency, warning residents to avoid carrying arms.
Security has been tightened further and troops laid barbed wire around the town. Paramilitary troops have set up new checkposts on Ghulam Khan road, Datakhel road and Mirali-Miramshah road.
Curfew was relaxed from 11am to 5pm on Saturday to facilitate people to start business activities in the town.
The army made announcements in bazaar and asked people to open their shops and resume business activities.
However, AFP quoted ISPR DG Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan as having said that around 30 foreign militants and their local supporters were killed as troops using helicopters destroyed their hideout.
He said that the new operation against pro-Taliban suspects launched late Friday also blew up their ammunition dump and secondary explosions continued to echo in the area late into the night.
“We got information that some local and foreign miscreants were hiding in the vicinity of Miranshah. We launched strikes with Cobra and other helicopters,” Gen Sultan said.
“According to our initial information 25 to 30 militants were killed” in the raids, he added.
The operation was launched after 8pm on Friday, he said, adding that there were no arrests. The secondary explosions from the den, which continued for sometime, indicated that a large quantity of arms and ammunition had been dumped there, the general said.
Security officials in Miranshah said the death of at least three foreign militants had been confirmed so far and their nationalities were being determined.