DERA ISMAIL KHAN, PAKISTAN // A suicide car bomber attacked an army convoy in Pakistan's volatile northwestern tribal area today, killing three civilians and three soldiers, an army spokesman said. The dead included a child, and five soldiers were also wounded, said Maj Murad Khan. He said the convoy was headed to Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan's tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
The US says the semi-autonomous tribal regions have become bases for Taliban and al Qa'eda fighters involved in attacks on American and Nato forces in Afghanistan. Washington has pressured Pakistan to crack down on extremism in the areas and has even staged unilateral operations on Pakistani territory, which have angered the Muslim nation. The Pakistan-US relationship is expected to be a focus of a key speech to parliament by newly elected Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari later today.
Pakistan has said it is doing its best to fulfil its role in the war on terror, deploying more than 100,000 troops along its north-west to flush out militants. The country is also staging two major military operations in the north-west, including one in the Bajur tribal region that has killed hundreds of suspected militants. Government official Iqbal Khattak said nine more alleged militants died today in the Bajur offensive. Nine suspected militants also died the previous day, according to Khan, the army spokesman.
Although no one immediately claimed responsibility for today's suicide attack, the Pakistani Taliban have said they were behind a string of suicide bombings in the past few weeks in revenge for the military offensives. * AP