ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, (AP) – Low-level al-Qaeda members were among 12 militant fighters killed by a military attack on two compounds near the Afghan border, officials said Wednesday.
Helicopter gunships and artillery pounded the two hideouts in Daygan, a village in the North Waziristan region, for about four hours on Tuesday, military officials said.
The strike triggered further fighting as militants from areas around the compounds fought to keep security forces from approaching, a local security official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Government troops didn’t captured the compounds, and the report on militant casualties was based on information from local sources, officials said.
Among the 12 militants killed in the bombardment and fighting were Arabs and Chechens, the official said. There were no casualties among government forces.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad said about 12 “miscreants” had been killed in the assault.
The Daygan assault appeared to be the toughest military action since troops redeployed there early last month, after a controversial peace deal with pro-Taliban militants to maintain local security collapsed.
Since then, attacks on government forces have surged and more than 360 people have been killed, including at least 102 who died in an army raid last month on Islamabad’s radical Red Mosque. Militants have vowed to avenge those deaths.