PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A bomb planted at a checkpoint manned by members of a Pakistani militia fighting a radical group similar to the Taliban exploded Sunday and killed eight militia members in northwest Pakistan, a government official said.
The blast in the border region with Afghanistan shows the challenges that these militias and their Pakistani government supporters face as they try to purge the volatile border region of groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaida who have grown in strength over the last decade.
Tribal agency official Iqbal Khan said six more members of the militia were wounded in the incident which took place in the Tirah valley of the Khyber tribal region.
The complex attack started when a bomb planted at the checkpoint was detonated by a timer, Khan said. Then as the militiamen were retrieving the bodies, the militants opened fired on them. The militiamen escaped unhurt, but two of the militants were killed in the retaliatory fire.
The militia was set up to fight a local radical group known as Lashkar-e-Islam, the tribal official said. Insurgents often target the militias, which they perceive as Pakistani government supporters.
Pakistan has outlawed Lashkar-e-Islam, which wants enforcement of a Taliban-style version of Islamic law.
Lashkar-e-Islam is not formally linked to the Pakistani Taliban. But it shares similar ideology with the Taliban and other militant groups in Pakistan's tribal regions along Afghan border. The group sometimes shares manpower and resources with other militants.
The militia fighting Lashkar-e-Islam is composed of local tribesmen frustrated with the growth of Taliban-style groups in their territory. Such militias were started by the Pakistani government in its campaign against Lashkar-e-Islam and the Pakistani Taliban in the lawless Khyber tribal areas where the government has little or no control.