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Pakistan army officials examine the site of a plane crash in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. A small Pakistani military plane crashed into a residential area near the garrison city of Rawalpindi before dawn, killing some people, officials said.Anjum Naveed/The Associated Press

A Pakistani military plane on a training flight crashed into homes near the garrison city of Rawalpindi before dawn Tuesday, killing at least 17 people, most of them on the ground.

Fires, damaged homes and debris were visible in Mora Kalu village on the outskirts of Rawalpindi after daybreak. Troops and police cordoned off the residential area to search for plane debris and investigative evidence after the rescue efforts had ended.

Five soldiers, including two army pilots, and at least 12 civilians were killed, the military said in a statement.

Farooq Butt, an official at the state-run emergency service, said an additional 15 people were injured. Rescue officials said the death toll could rise since some of those injured were critical.

“We have shifted all the bodies and injured persons to hospitals,” he told The Associated Press. “Most of the victims received burn injuries and children are among the dead.”

Residents say they woke up when they heard an explosion and saw debris of a burning plane near their homes. Army helicopters were seen hovering over the crash site later.

“My sister, her husband and their three children were killed when the plane crashed into their home,” said Mohammad Mustafa, as he sobbed near his sister’s badly damaged home. He said rescuers and troops quickly reached the area after the crash.

Several men and women who lost their relatives in the crash were seen wailing and crying as rescuers put charred bodies of the victims into ambulances. Footage on social media showed the plane was flying very low before it quickly went down.

Abdul Rehman, a medical doctor, said at least three homes were badly damaged and the pilots’ bodies had been retrieved.

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his grief and sorrow for those killed or injured in the incident.

The military said the army aircraft was on a routine training flight when it crashed, but had no information on the possible cause.

Pakistan’s military has been on maximum alert since February when India launched an airstrike inside Pakistan, saying it was targeting militants who were responsible for the suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian troops in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan at the time retaliated and shot down two Indian air force planes. One Indian pilot was captured and later released amid signs of easing tensions.

In 2010, a Pakistani passenger jet crashed into the hills surrounding Pakistan’s capital Islamabad amid poor weather, killing all 152 people on board.

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