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AFP

Miranshah, May 22: Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships on Tuesday stormed a suspected Al-Qaeda training camp in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan, killing four foreign rebels, officials said.

Soldiers raided the compound at Zargarkhel village in North Waziristan after the militants refused to meet a peace delegation flown in by helicopter and opened fire, military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said.

The strike came as the United States continued to press key ally President Pervez Musharraf to crush Al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents, who have allegedly regrouped in the rugged frontier area since 2001.

"Four miscreants were killed when security forces launched an operation to bust a terrorist training camp at Zargarkhel. Helicopters were also there," Arshad said.

"We involved the local tribal elders to negotiate their surrender but the delegation was fired at when it was flown to the area. The security forces retaliated and there was a gunbattle," he said.    Residents said they saw US-built Cobra gunships flying repeated sorties towards the village, which consists of around a dozen mud-brick houses surrounded by barren hills.

The operation ended after several hours, and soldiers recovered training equipment and munitions including rockets, detonators, land mines and small arms, Arshad said.

There was no "high value target" among the dead but an investigation was underway to determine their nationalities, he added.


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