A suicide car bomber attacked a Pakistani military convoy in a troubled tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 11 people including six soldiers, security officials said.
The bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the convoy near a checkpost at Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan region, two officials in the area said on condition of anonymity.
“The suicide bomber was blown to pieces and his car was totally destroyed” one of the officials said. The targeted military vehicle was also badly damaged.
Five soldiers and four civilian bystanders were killed instantly by the blast while one civilian and one soldier died later in hospital, the official said.
Two civilians with serious shrapnel wounds were still in the hospital.
Chief Pakistani military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said he had so far received reports that four soldiers were killed and six injured, two critically, in an attack in Mir Ali.
“It is not immediately clear what caused the blast near the military vehicle,” he said.
Officials said there was no immediate link with the the pro-Taliban Lal Masjid in Islamabad, which called for suicide attacks on Tuesday to avenge the “blood of martyrs”.
The mosque has close ties to the tribal areas and many of its students hail from the rugged region.
Insurgents continue to target government and military installations despite a peace agreement in North Waziristan last year between the authorities and pro-Taliban rebels.
Hundreds of foreign Al Qaeda militants fled into Pakistan’s tribal belt in late 2001 after US-led forces ousted the Taliban regime from Afghanistan for hosting Osama bin Laden and his allies.
President Pervez Musharraf held a special meeting on Monday to discuss a new strategy to curb “Talibanisation” along the Afghan border, government officials said.
Pakistan, meanwhile, witnessed angry protests over the bloody clash at the Lal Masjid in Islamabad.
Protesters blocked highways, ransacked banks, damaged vehicles, burnt tyres and effigies on streets, forced traders to shut down shops and took out processions over the strong military response to the flare-up around the Lal Masjid complex.
Security forces across Pakistan have been put on high alert to ensure peace and prevent incidents of terrorism and subversion.