PARACHINAR, June 19: Security forces, backed by helicopter gunships, killed three militants and injured 30 others after armed men attacked a food convoy, killing four drivers in the Kurram Agency’s Sadda town on Thursday.

Assistant political agent Atta-ur-Rehman said four trucks loaded with food items had been set on fire by the militants after an attack on the convoy going to Parachinar, the regional headquarters of the Kurram region.

The political administration gave a deadline to residents of the Pir Qayum village, in lower Kurram, to hand over the culprits or face action.

The officials said the deadline had been extended by three hours -- from 3pm to 6pm — and people had started evacuating the village for fear of action.

They said the food convoy, comprising 24 vehicles, was being escorted by paramilitary forces and after the attack villagers started looting foodstuffs.

Four drivers were killed and four trucks were set on fire.

Security forces retaliated and helicopter gunships were called in to assist ground forces.

Locals said a majority of the wounded were children and women. They were taken to a hospital in Sadda town.

Mr Rehman said that three people had been killed and 30 others wounded in the retaliatory attack by troops and choppers.

The seven-month blockade of upper Kurram has caused severe shortage of food, medicines and fuel and people are mostly relying on supplies from Afghanistan.

The attack on the convoy sparked tension in the region, where more than 700 people have been killed since April last year.

In another incident, four people were killed and six others injured in clashes between Bangash and Mangal tribesmen in the Shalozan area, some 15kms northwest of Parachinar, on Wednesday night and Thursday.

PRISONERS ESCAPE: Thirty-five prisoners escaped from a sub-jail in Sadda town on Wednesday night. According to officials, the prisoners had broken the main gate of the jail and escaped despite firing by personnel of the Levies Force.

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