PESHAWAR: Four women were shot dead by terrorists in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal district of North Waziristan, police in the area said on Monday.
A statement from the district police in North Waziristan said unidentified gunmen fired at a vehicle carrying the women near Mir Ali, a major town in North Waziristan that borders Afghanistan.
“The ladies reportedly working for NGO (non-governmental organization) have been targeted and killed by terrorists,” the statement said.
The statement added that a search and strike operation is being continued in the Mir Ali area to trace the terrorists.
Police said the driver of the car was injured and shifted to a local hospital for treatment.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack. The authorities routinely blame militant groups for attacks in the tribal districts.
Located along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, North Waziristan used to be a hotbed of militancy, but security forces have successfully flushed out the terrorists from the area in offensives.
According to Associated Press report, a group of suspected militants ambushed a vehicle carrying women activists from a non-governmental organization in a former northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Monday, killing four of them and wounding the driver, police said.
The attack took place in the village of Epi in Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan district, said Iqbal Khan, a local police officer. Shafi Ullah Khan, a district police chief, also confirmed the attack, saying police had launched a search in an effort to trace and arrest the attackers. They fled to nearby mountains and no one has claimed responsibility.
Officials said the victims were from the Sabawoon Pakistani charity, which provides training to women interested in doing business from their homes and creates awareness among them about their rights. The women activists traveled to Mir Ali from the town of Bannu in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The attack drew condemnation from Pakistani rights activists on social media, with most of them demanding a swift action action against those responsible.
Police said the apparent militants had prior information and were waiting for the women to arrive. Pakistani militants have in recent months stepped up their activities in the region, raising fears they were regrouping in the former Taliban stronghold.
Militants also often attack Pakistani troops in the former tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. The North and South Waziristan districts served as the main base for local and foreign militants until the military secured the regions in 2015.
The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, are a separate insurgent group from the Afghan Taliban, although Pakistan’s militant groups are often interlinked with those across the border.