Roadside bomb kills six policeman in north-west Pakistan
Six security personnel, including a local police chief, were killed and two more injured on Saturday in roadside bomb attack in Pakistan's restive Swat Valley, where the death toll in the four-day fighting between the government forces and rebels rose to more than 80, officials and media reports said.
A vehicle carrying the security staff was targeted by a remote- controlled bomb, apparently planted by pro-Taliban militants, during a routine patrol in Hazara area of the restive valley, the dpa reported.
The clashes erupted in Swat early this week when militants killed three intelligence officers and sized up to 30 police and paramilitary troops, putting a two-month peace agreement in limbo.
"The injured have been moved to Saidu Sharif (capital of Swat district) hospital, where both are said to be in critical condition," a security official said on condition of anonymity.
Separately, the militants torched two girls' schools overnight, bringing to more than 70 the number female educational institutions destroyed during the past year, depriving over 17,000 girls students from education.
In the nearby district of Dir, where Swat valley militants have great influence, unknown attackers fired nine rockets at a military camp, prompting the security forces to target their position in the surrounding mountains with mortar fire. No casualties were reported, the Urdu-language Aaj news channel said.
Skirmishes between government troops and Islamic militants also continued in Matta sub-district of Swat, about 300 kilometres north- west of Islamabad, and a mortar shell hit a house, killing one woman and injuring her two family members.
The numbers of civilians died so far while caught in the exchange of fire have risen to 25, the English-language Dawn news channel reported, while the total death toll rose to beyond 80, including 11 security personnel and 45 Taliban.
The picturesque valley was a popular tourist destination up till last November when the military launched a crackdown on the supporters of a radical cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, after he began a campaign to impose Taliban-style rules in Swat.
Hundreds of people have died in the military operation, which was halted in March when Pakistan's new government initiated peace talks with the militants and reached a peace accord in May.
But the rebels continued raids on government officials and buildings, accusing the authorities of violating the agreement.