ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistani fighter jets bombed suspected militant sanctuaries in villages near the Afghan border Wednesday, killing at least 60 people, according to the military.
"Air strikes were carried out on terrorist’s hideouts in North Waziristan Agency this morning," said an official statement from the Pakistani military. "Sixty hardcore terrorists, including some of the important commanders and foreigners, were also killed in the strikes and around 30 were injured."
It was not immediately clear if any civilians died in the bombardment, although villagers in the area said civilians had been killed in the bombardments.
"The air-strikes were precise and based on intelligence reports. Therefore [there are] minimum chances of civilian casualties," the military official in Peshawar said.
Dozens of houses in the villages of Hasukhel, Hurmaz, Mosaki and Khushali were targeted in the early hours of Wednesday, according to Baharullah Dawar, who lives nearby in North Waziristan's capital of Miranshah.
"We were asleep when heavy explosions started in the area. We thought they were drone strikes but when we came out of our rooms, we noticed heavy fighter jets bombing villages," Dawar told NBC News by telephone.
Dawar said four Pakistani army helicopter gunships arrived later in the morning and started ‎pounding suspected militant sanctuaries.
"The villagers and militants later retrieved 30 bodies from collapsed houses. More than two dozen people had been injured but couldn't be taken to the hospital because the local administration had imposed curfew in the entire tribal region since Wednesday morning," he said.
Ibrahim Khan and Ghaniur Rahman, two residents of the nearby town of Mir Ali, told NBC News via telephone that women, children and the elderly had died in the assault.
The aerial strikes came after NATO, Afghan and Pakistani officials agreed to step-up their coordination in the lawless border region and try to ensure that the next round of Afghan presidential elections scheduled for June 14 go smoothly.
Last week also saw U.S. drone strikes restart in the region following a lull of more than 130 days - the longest gap in such strikes since 2011. Those attacks reportedly killed senior Taliban targets.
First published May 21 2014, 1:06 AM