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The injured were shifted to a nearby hospital where officials said that two were in a critical condition. – (File Photo)

PESHAWAR: Militants opened fire on a passenger van in a lawless northwestern Pakistani town on Sunday, killing at least eight Shia Muslims and wounding seven others, police said.

The incident took place in Hangu district, 150 kilometres southwest of Peshawar, the capital of insurgency-hit Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province.

“Militants intercepted a passenger van at Mamoo Khwar village in Hangu district and opened fire, killing eight passengers and wounding seven others,” senior local police official Abdul Rashid told AFP.

He said, “It seems to be a sectarian incident, as all those killed in the firing were Shia Muslims.”

He said that the militants, who numbered six, fled the scene but police later launched an operation in the area and killed three rebels.

“A search operation has already been launched to arrest the remaining ones,” he said.

Police spokesman Fazal Naeem also confirmed the incident and casualties in Hangu, a town that regularly suffers from sectarian violence and a Taliban-linked insurgency.