Pakistan ambush kills four police

PESHAWAR: Gunmen killed four police officers in a pre-dawn ambush Monday in an area of northwest Pakistan troubled by militancy on the main supply route to Afghanistan, officials said.

In another incident a bomb killed a soldier in the northwestern town of Bannu.

In the attack on police, assailants targeted a police van on night patrol in the Bara district on the outskirts of the city of Peshawar, senior police officer Qazi Jamil said.

"Around 10 assailants armed with Kalashnikov rifles who had been hiding on both sides of the road opened fire and killed all four police officials," he told AFP.

The incident happened on the main road to eastern Afghanistan near Sarband police station, where territory under direct government control slips into the restive tribal region of Khyber.

The casualties were confirmed by another police official. "Our four colleagues were killed and their funeral prayers would be held late Monday," said officer Safdar Khan.

In another incident a remote controlled bomb killed a paramilitary soldier and wounded six others including a commander in Bannu.

Bannu district's chief of Frontier Corps, Abdul Nawaz Khatak, was travelling with his soldiers in a military vehicle when militants detonated a remote controlled roadside bomb, local police officer Aurangzeb Khan said.

"One soldier was killed and six others were injured including Commander Khatak," Khan told AFP by telephone.

Bannu police chief Iqbal Marwat confirmed the casualties were caused by a remote controlled device.

Islamist militants bitterly opposed to Pakistan's alliance with the United States, whose troops are fighting a Taliban insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan, carry out daily attacks on security forces in the northwest.

The bulk of supplies and equipment required by US and NATO-led foreign forces fighting in Afghanistan pass through the lawless Khyber region and militants frequently attack the convoys.

US officials say northwest Pakistan has become a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who fled the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan and have regrouped to launch attacks on foreign troops across the border.