MIRANSHAH: Four women aid workers were killed, while their driver was injured in a firing incident in Mir Ali tehsil of North Waziristan tribal district on Monday.

Unidentified armed men ambushed four women as they were travelling in a vehicle through a village in North Waziristan. District Police Officer (DPO) Shafiullah Gandapur said one woman survived the assault. He said the aid workers were affiliated with a programme run by non-governmental organisation (NGO) Sabawon to develop household skills for women.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, said the police chief, adding that it was surely an act of terrorism. However, a spokesman for Sabawon said the women were not employees of the NGO. He said his organisation is deeply saddened by the incident and shares the grief of the bereaved families.

The sources said the incident happened around 9:30am when the women were coming from Bannu and adjoining areas to impart training of sewing and embroidery to women of a local village when unidentified armed men, who were hiding their faces, came on a motorcycle and opened fire on the NGO’s vehicle killing the workers on spot. The driver was rushed to Mir Ali Hospital where his condition was stated to be stable.

The deceased women had been identified as Ayesha Bibi, Jawariya Bibi, Naheed Bibi and Irshad Bibi. The deceased women and injured driver hailed from Bannu. One of the women, Maryam Bibi, was lucky as she jumped out of the car before the incident occurred and took refuge inside a house in the village.

Police said they are conducting raids to nab the suspects. A search operation was also carried out in the area.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Aqiq Hussain said the NGO did not have a police no-objection certificate (NOC) and was operating in the area without it.

The local people have expressed grave concern over growing incidents of violence and target killing in the area and demanded arrest of the culprits involved in such incidents. They also wondered how an NGO was working without NOC despite challenging law and order situation in the area and demanded inquiry into it.

UNICEF is saddened and shocked at the reported killing of four women who were reportedly staff members of Bravo College Bannu, and was travelling to North Waziristan, one of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Merged Districts, earlier on Monday. Their driver was reportedly injured in the attack after unidentified assailants fired at their vehicle.

“UNICEF condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless attack on women and aid workers and joins the families in mourning this tragic loss of lives. The perpetrators must be brought to justice,” said Ms. Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan.