Islamabad, Pakistan Pakistani troops backed by helicopters firing missiles destroyed an al-Qaida-linked training facility in a northwestern tribal area near the Afghan border today, killing "many" militants, officials said.
The pre-dawn attack targeted a religious school - known as a madrassa - holding 70 to 80 militants in a village near the town of Khar, the main town in the Bajur tribal district, said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan.
Sultan said the facility was destroyed, but it was not immediately clear how many people had been killed.
The attack came two days after 5,000 pro-Taliban tribesmen had an anti-American rally in Damadola, a Bajur-area village close to the site of an alleged U.S. missile attack in January that killed several al-Qaida members and civilians.
"We received confirmed intelligence reports that 70 to 80 militants were hiding in a madrassa used as a terrorist-training facility, which was destroyed by an army strike, led by helicopters," Sultan said.
Soldiers on the ground were tallying the number of dead, Sultan said.