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'Germans among the dead' in Pakistan air raid on extremists

Pakistan's air force has staged one of its largest raids against the Taliban in the country's northwest. According to Pakistan military sources, three German citizens with ties to al Qaeda could be among those killed.

Sources from the Pakistan military said on Tuesday that Germans had been killed in a military air strike on the country's northwest Waziristan region, a stronghold of the Taliban in Pakistan. They were reportedly extremists with links to al Qaeda.

"Most of the terrorists killed [in the air strike] were foreign fighters, including three Germans," a military source told news agency AFP.

More than 40 Islamist extremists - the majority of which hailed from Uzbekistan - were killed in the Tuesday attack.

Deaths not confirmed

Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not confirm the deaths. However, one of its spokespeople told the DPA news agency: "The German embassy in Islamabad is in contact with local authorities and is working diligently to find out more."

Pakistan's air force launched a large-scale raid on the northwest Waziristan

in retaliation for recent Taliban attacks

, which left more than 30 military personnel dead.

The Taliban has stepped up attacks on Pakistan's military following the deaths of its leader Hakimullah Mesud and deputly Waliur Rehman, both of whom were killed in US drone attacks at the end of last year. Those deaths also prompted the militant group to refuse to enter into negotiations with Pakistan's new government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was accused by the militants of supporting the US attack.

AFP reported on Monday that Taliban spokesperson Shahid had said the movement was "ready for meaningful negotiations despite facing huge leadership losses if the government proves its authority and sincerity" by following through with promises to bring an end to drone attacks and its military presence in tribal areas.

The Pakistani military has been fighting for years in the tribal areas against militants who want to overthrow the government and establish an ultraconservative Islamic state across Pakistan.

kms/ipj (AFP, dpa)

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