Blast kills four Pakistani soldiers in tribal area

January 23, 2007 - 0:0
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) -- Four Pakistani soldiers were killed and 16 wounded Monday when a roadside bomb targeting a military convoy exploded in a tribal zone bordering Afghanistan, security officials said.

The convoy was traveling to Miranshah, the main town in the troubled North Waziristan region, from the nearby town of Bannu when the blast hit its lead vehicle, a security official said.

"It was a remote-controlled bomb planted by miscreants," said the official, using the Pakistani term for rebels operating in the semi-autonomous area.

One military vehicle was destroyed and four soldiers were killed in the incident near the Khajoori check post, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Miranshah, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Another security official said at least 16 soldiers were wounded.

Pakistani authorities signed a controversial peace deal with pro-Taleban militants in North Waziristan last September. Foreign forces in Afghanistan say attacks in the neighboring country have since risen.

The blast follows an air strike by military helicopter gunships in the Zamzola area of neighboring South Waziristan region last Tuesday that destroyed a suspected Al-Qaeda hideout.

Military officials initially said up to 30 "foreign terrorists" and their local facilitators were believed killed, although local authorities later said they had found only nine bodies. Ten others were wounded, they said.

Residents, denying the presence of foreigners, claimed the strike killed local tribesmen and Afghan laborers. Some pro-Taleban militants at a protest rally vowed to avenge the air strike.

On Sunday two policemen were wounded in a similar roadside blast near a police van in the town of Tank, abutting South Waziristan district.