TIMERGARAH (Lower Dir), July 6: Four army personnel were killed and another was critically wounded when a military jeep leading a convoy was hit by a roadside bomb near Dargai on the Peshawar-Swat highway on Friday.

Officials suspect that the device fitted to a bicycle parked on the highway in Pull Chowki area was exploded by a remote control.

The device went off at about 2pm when the convoy was going towards Swat, Ali Rehmat, an official of Malakand Levies, said.Traffic on the highway remained suspended for about four hours as officials of Chitral Scouts and Malakand Levies blocked the road from Chakdara Bridge up to the site of the blast.

According to official sources, Maj Afaq of Kashmir, Lt Zia of Charsadda and sepoys Tanveer of Sahiwal and Barkat of Gilgit died. Driver Anwar of Gujar Khan, who was injured critically, was taken to Batkhela hospital and then to Mardan.

Levies officials said that no body parts had been found at the site suggesting it was not a suicide bombing. They were of the view that a remote control had been used to explode the device.

Witnesses told Dawn that troops had been moving towards the Swat district since Thursday, where situation was tense and there was a possibility of a showdown between supporters of Maulana Fazlullah and law-enforcement agencies.

They said the highway was in a bad shape and it was being repaired at the place where the vehicle was hit.

Syed Zahid Jan in Upper Dir adds: A Frontier Corps convoy going to Shandur to provide security to the polo festival escaped a roadside bomb blast in Darora area. The windscreen of a vehicle was damaged but no one was injured.

The convoy comprising 15 to 20 vehicles was about 30km south of Dir town when the explosion took place at about 9.30am.

Police said the convoy advanced towards Chitral.