Gunmen killed two tribal elders in a remote Pakistani district, bringing to six the number of elders killed in the country’s troubled northwestern tribal region this week.
The two elders in Bajaur district were on way home overnight from a hospital where they had inquired after the health of a friend when they were fired on in the Salarzai area, police official Gul Zarin Khan told RFE/RL on December 2.
The attackers fled the scene. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The victims, identified as Saadat Khan and Shazullah, were known for being supportive of the government in Islamabad.
The attack comes two days after four other tribal elders were killed by gunmen in North Waziristan, another tribal district bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistan's seven northwestern tribal districts, located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, have long been a militant stronghold, including for Taliban fighters. In 2014, security forces conducted a massive operation in North Waziristan and claimed the area had been cleared of militant groups.
But local residents complain that targeted killings have increased over the past year, raising concerns of a return of the Taliban and other militants to the area. Residents have also protested against what they say is brutality by the security forces.
In North Waziristan, the November 25 killing of a boy -- allegedly by security forces -- triggered a four-day sit-in protest. Demonstrators demanded an inquiry into the killing and justice against those behind it.