South Asia

Convoy in Pakistan Kurram agency ambushed by gunmen

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At least eight people have been killed and 15 kidnapped as gunmen attacked two vehicles travelling through a volatile district of north-west Pakistan, officials say.

The ambush occurred in the Bagan area of the Kurram tribal agency. About five others were injured.

Those targeted were Shia Muslims who recently struck a peace deal with Taliban militants in the area.

The region also has a history of sectarian violence.

The gunmen fired on one vehicle, killing some passengers inside and then set fire to it, local officials told the BBC. They then hijacked a second vehicle carrying a number of passengers.

"The attackers came in two vehicles. They opened fire and fled, leaving eight people dead, including a woman and a child," local administration official Fazal Hussain told the AFP news agency.

Shia-Taliban deal

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says it is very likely the attack happened as a result of the recent peace deal between Shia tribes in the area and the Taliban.

Our correspondent says that the peace deal was brokered in February by Pakistani security forces and guaranteed by members of the Haqqani network - a branch of the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan.

Shia Muslim tribes had been waging a three-year war to keep the Taliban out of the area.

However, militant groups operating in other tribal regions have launched a number of attacks in an effort to undermine the deal, our correspondent says.

In mid-March gunmen attacked a passenger coach travelling along the same road but in the neighbouring Hangu district, killing 11 people.

Just weeks earlier gunmen from the North Waziristan tribal region kidnapped 20 Shia residents of Kurram. There has been no word of their release.

The latest attack occurred on the main road that runs through the Kurram tribal agency connecting the regional capital with the city of Peshawar.

Until the peace deal the road had been blocked by the Taliban since November 2007.