Gunmen killed five female teachers and two other people on Tuesday in an ambush on a van carrying workers home from their jobs at a community center in northwest Pakistan, officials said.
The van was transporting teachers and aid workers from the center in conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Two health workers, one man and one woman, were also killed and the driver was wounded.
The attack was a reminder of the risks faced by educators and aid workers, especially women, in an area where Islamic militants often target women and girls trying to get an education. Many militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province oppose female education and have blown up schools and killed female educators as a way to discourage girls from getting an education.
In a case in the same province that gained international attention, a Taliban gunman shot 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai in the head last October for criticizing the militants and promoting girls' education. She is currently recovering in Britain.
The workers were on their way home from a community center in the town of Swabi where they were working at a primary school and adjoining medical center. Gunmen on motorcycles opened fire with automatic weapons, said Javed Akhtar, executive director of the non-governmental organization Support With Working Solutions.
The NGO conducts programs in the education and health sectors and runs a primary school and a medical clinic at the community center in Swabi, he said.
He provided the details on who was killed.
Swabi police chief Abdur Rasheed said most of the women killed were between the ages of 20 and 22. He said the four gunmen who used two motorcycles fled the scene and have not been apprehended.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.