PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Suspected militants on motorcycles ambushed a vehicle carrying instructors from a private vocational school in northwest Pakistan on Monday, killing four women and wounding the driver before fleeing, police said.
The attack took place in the village of Epi in Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan district in a former tribal region bordering Afghanistan, said Shafi Ullah Khan Gandapur, a district police chief.
Police said the slain women were sent to the village by private vocational school Bravo Institute of Technology, Peshawar under an agreement with the Sabawon Pakistan charity. They had planned to train 140 residents for skilled occupations that would allow them to open their own businesses.
Arfan Ullah Marwat, a spokesman for the Sabawon charity, said the women were not their employees.
Gandapur said the attack might have been avoided if police had received a request for security in an area where militants have stepped up attacks on troops in recent months.
The wounded driver, Abdul Khaliq, said he saw assailants on two motorcycles open fire and then flee. He said he was hired by the Bravo Institute of Technology, Peshawar to take the women from the town of Bannu to the town of Mir Ali and back.
The attack drew condemnation from rights activists on social media, with most demanding swift action against those responsible.
Pakistani militants have in recent months stepped up their activities in the region, raising fears they were regrouping in the area, which was a former Taliban stronghold.
Militants also often attack Pakistani troops in the former tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.
The North and South Waziristan districts served as the main base for local and foreign militants until the military secured the regions in 2015.