Gunmen kill two men in Pakistan

Suspected Islamic militants opened fire at a truck transporting water for Pakistani soldiers in a northwestern tribal region Monday, killing its driver and a passenger, a government official said.

The shooting happened near the village of Thabi, about 3 kilometers (2 miles) north of Miran Shah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal area that borders Afghanistan, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was unauthorized to speak to the media.

The two victims worked for a private contractor supplying water to troops based in the area, the official said.

The assailants fired from a car at the truck, said an intelligence official based in the area who also spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of his work.

It was unclear who carried out the attack, but the volatile region has witnessed a spike in violence since early March as local tribesmen and fighters loyal to the toppled Taliban government have battled thousands of soldiers trying to stamp out militants operating in the region.

In a separate attack Sunday night by suspected militants, two rockets were fired at a military base in Miran Shah but no one was hurt and the rockets landed in a field, the intelligence official said.

Troops fired artillery intermittently for about two hours toward nearby hills after the rocket attack but it was not known whether the attackers suffered any casualties, he said.

Meanwhile, about 8,000 tribesmen and clerics rallied in Miran Ali, a town east of Miran Shah, demanding authorities end military operations and remove roadblocks in North Waziristan.

"Innocent people are being arrested in the operations and the roadblocks have created problems for the people," said tribal elder Malik Khan Umar Jan at the "jirga" or a traditional tribal meeting.

"The troops don't respect local traditions and conduct operations without first letting tribal elders know," Umar said, reports the AP.

I.L.