A suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a police checkpoint in the volatile Swat valley in northwest Pakistan yesterday, killing at least six people including two children and a policeman.
The attack, near Swat's main town of Mingora, came a day after the military said it had cleared the scenic valley of most militants led by a firebrand pro-Taliban cleric, whose insurgent followers had clashed with troops in the area for weeks.
The attacker was driving from Matta, a town known as a militant stronghold, to Mingora.
"Two children, three civilians and a policeman were killed. One policeman was wounded," said Amjad Iqbal, a military spokesman in Swat.
Another official said nine people were killed, including three policemen.
Iqbal said the head of the bomber had been found at the site of the blast.
In a separate incident, residents said three decapitated bodies had been found near the town of Matta. Their bodies were later brought to Mingora.
A reporter saw the bodies with their hands and feet tied with ropes. Iqbal said the slain men were "local Taliban" and might have been killed by residents, but there was no independent verification.
Last month, the army launched an offensive in Swat which the commander in charge said on Saturday had succeeded in clearing the militants from most of the valley, pushing cleric Maulana Fazlullah and his followers into remote valleys to the northwest.
Major General Nasser Janjua told reporters in Mingora on Saturday his troops had killed 290 militants, who he said were supported by the Taliban and Al-Qaida.
A further 143 were captured in the offensive involving 20,000 troops, he added, saying six of his men had been killed.
Source: China Daily/Agencies