On Monday, gunmen on motorcycles ambushed a vehicle carrying a tractor from a private vocational school in northwestern Pakistan, killing four women and injuring the driver before fleeing.
The attack took place in the village of Api, near Mir Ali, a town in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, District Police Chief Shafiullah Khan Gandapur said.
The women were sent to the village by the Bravo Institute of Technology, Peshawar, a private vocational school, under an agreement with the Sabawon Pakistan Charity, police said. He planned to train 140 residents in skilled trades that would enable them to open their own businesses.
Irfanullah Marwat, a spokesman for Sabawon, said women were not his employees.
Gandapur said the attack could have been avoided if police had received a security request in an area where militants have stepped up attacks on troops in recent months.
The injured driver, Abdul Khaliq, said he saw the assailants open fire on two motorcycles and then fled. He said he was hired by the Bravo Institute to take Mir Ali and the returning women from Bannu.
The attack has been condemned on social media by rights activists, who have called for immediate action against those responsible.
Pakistani militants have stepped up their activities in the region in recent months, raising fears that they are regrouping in the area, a former stronghold of the Taliban. Militants often attack Pakistani troops in the former tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
The districts of North and South Waziristan continued to serve as strongholds for local and foreign militants until the army secured the area in 2015.
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