PARACHINAR, (AP) – Militants armed with assault rifles ambushed a convoy of civilian vehicles killing 16 people Saturday in northwestern Pakistan, the scene of extensive military operations targeting Islamist insurgents.
Several people were also wounded in Saturday’s attack in Char Khel village in the troubled tribal region of Kurram. The travelers were heading to the main northwestern city of Peshawar in vehicles when they were ambushed.
Kurram has witnessed scores of such attacks, robberies and kidnappings for ransom in the past three years.
Military offensives have left Pakistan’s army tied up in most of the tribal belt, as well as in the Swat Valley, also in the country’s northwest. Even after major operations have ended in some of these areas, militant activity has continued.
The army has moved primarily against the Pakistani Taliban network, which is distinct from the Afghan Taliban factions, though it shares many of the same Islamist and anti-Western goals.
The U.S. has praised Pakistan for pursuing army operations against militant groups on its territory. In part, that’s because it does not want Pakistan to be a sanctuary for militants battling U.S. and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.