PARACHINAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani security forces backed by helicopter gunships killed five militants on Thursday after four truck drivers were killed in an attack on a food convoy in the troubled northwest region, an official said.
Sunni Muslim militants have been attacking vehicles going into the Shi’ite-majority Kurram ethnic Pashtun region on the Afghan border for months.
As a result, paramilitary troops have been escorting supply convoys into the area but they have come under attack.
A senior government official in Parachinar, the main town in the region, said militants ambushed a convoy killing four drivers and then set fire to three trucks loaded with goods.
“We responded with helicopter gunships and killed at least five attackers and wounded four,” the official, Atta-ur-Rehman, told Reuters.
Rehman said 30 people were wounded in the retaliatory attack by the security forces and were brought to Kurram’s main government hospital in Parachinar. These included militants and civilians.
Sectarian tension has risen in Kurram and several parts of the North West Frontier Province in recent months as Sunni Muslim Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants have been expanding their influence across the region.
Most of Pakistan’s 160 million people are Sunni Muslim but about 15 percent are Shi’ite.