x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Bomb attacks kill 16 in northwest Pakistan: officials

Three separate bomb attacks in northwest Pakistan killed at least 16 people yesterday, including five security personnel in a suicide blast at a checkpoint.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan // Three separate bomb attacks in northwest Pakistan killed at least 16 people yesterday, including five security personnel in a suicide blast at a checkpoint, officials said.

A bomber detonated a vehicle he was driving loaded with explosives at a checkpoint in Hangu district, near the tribal areas where militants linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda have strongholds, police spokesman Fazal Naeem said.

"At least seven people have been killed and 23 injured. It was a suicide attack, the death toll may rise," he said.

Mian Mohammad Saeed, police chief for Hangu district said five security personnel were among the seven dead.

Earlier in the day, a roadside bomb struck a bus carrying members of a pro-government militia from the tribal district of Khyber, where fighting has recently intensified in a long-running Pakistan military operation against insurgents.

The explosion in the village of Hassanzo in the neighbouring tribal district of Orakzai killed seven people and wounded 13, officials said.

"According to initial information, the van was hired by a local peace committee from Khyber and 20 members of the peace committee were on board together with the driver," top Orakzai administration official Mehmood Hasan said.

Peace committees are armed groups operating in the restive northwest with the aim of protecting local communities on behalf of the government.

In another attack in the same place, a van carrying civilians was hit by a blast which killed two people and wounded 10, Mr Hasan said.

Security officials confirmed the attacks and the death toll.

Pakistani troops have been locked in deadly battles for years with domestic insurgents in the northwestern tribal belt, where militants also plot attacks on Afghan and western targets.

Islamabad says more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since 2001.