Pakistan bomb kills anti-Taliban militiamen

The US considers the tribal belt a global headquarters of al Qaeda and the most dangerous region on Earth.

Islamabad: A powerful roadside bomb targeting an anti-Taliban militia ripped through a pick-up vehicle in Pakistan`s tribal belt on Thursday killing at least five people, government officials said.

The blast badly damaged the pick-up in a remote village close to the Afghan border, in the northwestern district of Bajaur, where Pakistani troops have been fighting for years to dislodge Taliban militants.

"It was a planted IED (improvised-explosive device) which exploded when the vehicle passed. Five people have been killed and eight others were wounded," Adalat Khan, a government official in Chamarkand village, said by phone.

"Three of those who died are members of an anti-Taliban militia and one is a 10-year-old boy. The fifth one is the driver."

Irshad Shah, another government official, confirmed the casualties although there were fears that the death toll could rise.

Washington considers the tribal belt a global headquarters of al Qaeda and the most dangerous region on Earth, where Islamist militant groups are plotting attacks on American troops fighting in Afghanistan and on targets in the West.

In many areas, tribesmen have set up anti-Taliban militias, sponsored by the government, in a bid to drive militants out of their communities.

Nearly 4,700 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on Taliban and al Qaeda-linked networks based in the country`s tribal belt since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad in 2007.

Militants oppose the government`s alliance in the US war on al Qaeda and logistical support for the 10-year fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Elsewhere in the tribal belt, two people were killed overnight when a group of militants opened fire on NATO supply containers, officials said.

The incident took place near Landikotal, a town near the Afghan border in Khyber district and site of frequent attacks on NATO supply oil tankers and shipping containers.

"A tribal policeman and a driver were killed on the spot while another driver was injured," Iqbal Khatak, a local government official, said.

Although the United States has increasingly sourced alternative routes through central Asia, the bulk of supplies and equipment required by the 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan are still transported through Pakistan.

Bureau Report

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