PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Dec 3 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber rammed a car into a military convoy in a northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing three soldiers and a passer-by, police and residents said.
Pakistani forces are battling al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the northwest, who have retaliated with a campaign of suicide bombings, particularly on the security forces in the ethnic Pashtun tribal regions on the Afghan border.
The violence has raised concern about nuclear-armed Pakistan’s prospects as its civilian government struggles with a sharp economic downturn and with pressure from India which blames militants from Pakistan for last week’s assault in Mumbai.
In the latest attack on Pakistani forces, the bomber targetted a paramilitary Frontier Corps convoy, 32 km (20 miles) northwest of the city of Peshawar city, near the Mohmand region.
“After the attack, the vehicle caught fire and we have reports of three security people and a civilian killed,” said a police official who declined to be identified.
Shopkeeper Abdul Qadeer said troops had opened fire after the blast but caused no casualties.
The attack came two days after a suicide car-bomber killed eight people in an attack aimed at a military checkpoint in the troubled Swat valley, to the northwest of Islamabad.
Earlier on Wednesday, the military used artillery and jet fighters to attack militant hideouts in Mohmand but there was no immediate word on casualties, security officials said.
Most of the recent fighting with militants has been in the Swat valley and in Bajaur, another tribal region on the Afghan border, where the military says more than 1,500 militants have been killed since August.
There has been no independent verification of that casualty estimate. (Reporting by Izaz Mohmand; Writing by Augustine Anthony; Editing by Robert Birsel and Sanjeev Miglani)