Four women aid workers were killed and a driver injured after unidentified men opened fire at their vehicle in North Waziristan’s Miran Shah Monday morning.
The women were travelling to Ippi village near Mirali when they were attacked, according to the police.
The deceased have been identified as Naheed Bibi, Irshad Bibi, Ayesha Bibi, and Javeria Bibi. The women were reportedly working for NGO Sabawon as handcraft trainers, the police said in a statement.
One woman, identified as Mariam Bibi, escaped the attack.
The injured driver Abdul Khaliq has been moved to the THQ Hospital, Mirali.
Adil Dawar, an area resident, told SAMAA Digital that he was sleeping when the firing occurred. “My wife woke me up and told me about it.” When we reached the site, we found the bodies there. The area residents then moved the bodies to the hospital, he said, adding that they were then sent to Bannu.
One of the women killed in the attack was working for an NGO, Dawar said. She used to teach women how to use sewing machines and stitch clothes.
People in Bannu told BBC Urdu that the women used to travel for over two hours to reach Mir Ali on a daily basis. They had been earning Rs16,000 per month. Two of them were sisters.
“No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far but it was surely an act of terrorism,” Police Chief Shafiullah Gandapur had told AFP.
Sabawon has, on the other hand, said that its employees remained safe during the attack.
The police are conducting a search operation to trace and arrest the terrorists, the North Waziristan DPO said.
In a message to reporters, a TTP spokesperson said his group had nothing to do with the killings.
Commenting on the attack, ISPR DG Major General Babar Iftikhar said that border regions have their own dynamics and people need to understand them. “Not every incident is of terrorism, there are law and order cases too.”
“It will take time for things to normalise,” he remarked. “We need to show patience and think of the bigger picture rather than being incident-specific.”
In 2017, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Raddul Fasad in merged districts.
According to locals, over 500 people have been killed in targeted attacks since 2017. These include local tribal elders, peace committee members, and the general public. But this is the first incident where women were targeted in the area.
It is considered against the culture of the area to kill women, said a local. In fact, such murders have been rare.
This story is being updated. Additional reporting by AFP.