Militants have stepped up attacks in northwestern Pakistan, where authorities say at least five people - including an American aid official - were killed in two separate attacks. Meanwhile, Pakistani security forces are also hunting pro-Taliban extremists in the region, who were allegedly involved in this week's hijacking of 13 trucks carrying supplies for foreign troops in neighboring Afghanistan. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
Police officials say that unidentified gunmen shot and killed an American aid official, along with his local driver, as he left his home in Peshawar. The attack took place in an upscale area of the city, the University Town neighborhood, popular among diplomats and foreign aid workers.
A senior police official, Hassan Asad Alvi, tells VOA about the assassination.
"The U.S citizen was on his way to his office when unknown people in a car stopped his car and killed him," Alvi said. "We do not have any witnesses as yet as to who these people [attackers] were. Nobody has claimed any responsibility so far."
Acting spokesman for the U.S Embassy in Islamabad, Wesley Robertson, says the dead American was not part of the U.S diplomatic mission in Pakistan.
"I can confirm that an American citizen and his Pakistani driver were killed in that attack in Peshawar and the attack is currently under investigation and we were coordinating with local authorities," Robertson said. "This person was not a diplomat assigned here."
A senior U.S. diplomat based in Peshawar narrowly escaped a similar gun attack on her armored vehicle in August. Afghanistan Ambassador-designate Abdul Khaliq Farahi was kidnapped from the city, in late September, and his whereabouts are still not known.
Pakistani officials say that, hours after the shooting, a suicide car-bomber struck a military camp in nearby Shabqadar, killing at least three soldiers and wounding several others.
Parts of northwestern Pakistan are believed to have become safe heavens for militants linked to al-Qaida and Taliban. These extremists are blamed for the rising violence in the country and for launching attacks on NATO forces, across the border in Afghanistan.
Pakistani troops and paramilitary soldiers are engaged in major anti-insurgent operations and have killed more than 1,500 militants in the Bajaru tribal region on the Afghan border. Also, unmanned U.S spy planes have carried out frequent missile attacks, in recent weeks, targeting al-Qaida hideouts in remote tribal regions of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Pakistani security forces are hunting for pro-Taliban militants who seized 13 trucks carrying military vehicles and supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan. The incident took place Monday, in the Khyber tribal region bordering Peshawar, which serves as a main supply route for U.S and NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan.
A spokesman for the American military is reported as saying that Humvees and water tank trailers were among the items missing in what he described as a highly organized attack.