Islamabad : A suicide bombing killed at least 13 people, including eight policemen, and injured six more in Pakistan’s tribal region near the Afghan border Wednesday, an official said.
The bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a vehicle carrying the policemen in the tribal district of Khyber along a main highway leading to Afghanistan, said Sajid Khan, an official of the local administration.
According to Khan, eight security personnel from the tribal police, locally called Khasadar Force, and five civilians died in the bombing.
Among those killed was an officer Zarmat Khan who was recently honoured with an award by the government for his efforts against Islamist insurgents.
Khyber is plagued with Islamist militancy and has seen several deadly clashes between the Taliban fighters and government forces in the past. The rugged area hosts the main supply route for the Western forces stationed in landlocked Afghanistan.
Separately, two Pakistani soldiers died in a helicopter crash Wednesday in the same district.
The servicemen were on board a two-seat Cobra helicopter gunship which came down because of an apparent technical fault in the district’s Tirah valley.
“Aviation experts are investigating the helicopter crash, apparently caused by a technical failure,” a military spokesman said.
However hours later, Taliban militants ambushed the convoy of a rescue team from Pakistan Army heading towards the scene of the crash, killing a military brigadier and injuring two officers, said an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The officers were on their way to retrieve the bodies of those martyred in the helicopter crash,” added the official.
Pakistani troops are currently involved in multiple operations against the Taliban across the tribal belt.
The US military has also intensified drone strikes in pursuit of Al Qaeda-linked fighters involved in Dec 30 suicide bombing at a base in Afghan province of Khost, which killed seven intelligence agents.
The militants have stepped up attacks on government, military and civilian targets in response to the offensives.