Bomb kills six in north-west Pakistan: Police

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - Six people were killed including two public officials on Monday (July 18) after a bomb hit a car in Pakistan's restive north-west province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, police said, adding the intended target of the attack was not in the vehicle.

An improvised explosive device planted along a roadside detonated after the vehicle carrying seven people passed by in the northwestern town of Upper Dir.

"The bomb in fact targeted Malik Mutabar Khan, the pro-government elder and peace committee head, who was not present in the car at the time of the explosion," Yar Muhammad, a local police official, told AFP.

"Six other people including two local councillors were killed in the explosion."

One of the passengers in the vehicle sustained critical injuries and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

"It was just by chance that Malik Mutabar Khan got out of the vehicle at a nearby place before the explosion," Muhammad added.

District police officer Athar Waheed also confirmed the incident but put the death toll at seven.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but the Taleban have often targeted pro-government tribal elders in the northwestern province.

Pakistan, which has been battling Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked fighters in the restive tribal belt for over a decade, launched an offensive to clear their strongholds in North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, in 2014.

The army announced in May this year it had cleared the last militant stronghold in North Waziristan's Shawal valley, in the final phase of the mission.

The operation was intensified after the Taliban massacred more than 150 people, the majority of them children, at a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in December 2014.