pakistan army 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Some low-level al-Qaida members were among a dozen militant fighters killed by a military attack on two compounds near the Afghan border, officials said Wednesday, raising the toll from the strike a day earlier from 10.
Helicopter gunships and artillery pounded the two hideouts on Tuesday in Daygan, a village about 15 kilometers (10 miles) west of Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan region, 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 he not be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Chechens and Arabs were among the militants killed, he said, adding that there were no casualties among government forces.
Government troops did not capture the compounds, and the report on militant casualties was based on information from local sources, local intelligence officials said.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad said about 12 "miscreants" had been killed in the assault, using a word usually used by Pakistani officials to describe Islamic militants.
The Daygan assault appeared to be the toughest military action since troops withdrawn from the tribal zone in September 2006 began to be redeployed there early last month, after a controversial peace deal with pro-Taliban militants to maintain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.
Meanwhile, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf hit out at comments by US officials that Washington may unilaterally strike al-Qaida and Taliban militant positions in Pakistan's tribal border area with Afghanistan.
Musharraf told visiting Sen. Richard J. Durbin in a meeting in the southern city of Karachi on Tuesday that such comments were not helpful.
"He emphasized that only Pakistan's security forces, which were fully capable of dealing with any situation, would take counterterrorism action inside Pakistani territory," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Musharraf's comments come just days before he is to hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai about border security at a tribal council, or jirga, in Afghanistan on Thursday.
US President George W. Bush said Monday that America and Pakistan, if armed with good intelligence, could track and kill al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan, but stopped short of saying whether he would ask the Pakistani president before dispatching US troops there.