Roadside bombs kill nine in northwest Pakistan: officials

Two roadside bomb attacks in northwest Pakistan killed at least nine people on Thursday, including seven members of a pro-government militia, officials said.

Twenty militiamen were travelling by bus from the tribal district of Khyber, where fighting has recently intensified in a long-running Pakistan military operation against the Taliban and other Islamist insurgents on the Afghan border.

A roadside bomb struck their bus in the village of Hassanzo in the neighbouring tribal district of Orakzai as it was on its way to Kohat, one of the main garrison towns for the Pakistan army in the northwest, officials said.

"As a result of the blast, the passenger van was completely destroyed and seven people were killed and 13 others are wounded," top Orakzai administration official Mehmood Hasan told AFP, warning the death toll could rise.

"According to initial information, the van was hired by a local peace committee from Khyber and 20 members of the peace committee were on board together with the driver," he said.

Peace committees are armed groups operating in the restive northwest with the aim of protecting local communities on behalf of the government.

In the second attack, which happened in the same place, a van carrying civilians was hit by a blast, killing two people and wounding 10, Hasan said.

Security officials confirmed the attacks and the death toll.

Pakistani troops have been locked in deadly battles for years with domestic insurgents in the northwestern tribal belt, where Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants also plot attacks on Afghan and Western targets.

Islamabad says more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.