(AP) Gunmen fired into a small bus filled with journalists on their way back from covering the surrender of a suspected militant in a lawless tribal region today, killing two reporters and wounding two others, security officials said.
The journalists were on a road near Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, when their bus was overtaken by the assailants about 7:30 p.m., said Brig. Mahmood Shah, chief of security for Pakistan’s tribal areas along the frontier with Afghanistan. The gunmen sprayed the bus with AK-47 assault rifles then fled, he said.
Killed were Mir Nawab, a freelance cameraman who worked for several media agencies, including Associated Press Television News, and Allah Noor, a reporter for The Nation, an English-language Pakistani newspaper.
The wounded journalists were identified as Anwar Shakir, who works for Agence France-Presse, and Zardad Khan, a freelancer. Both were taken to a hospital in Wana, where Shakir was listed in serious condition, Shah said.
Nawab was not covering the surrender ceremony for APTN, but he had worked extensively with the TV news agency covering an 18-month crackdown by Pakistan’s military in the region, which is considered a likely hiding spot for al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and his top aides.
Shah said militant tribesmen were believed behind the killings and authorities would question elders from the tribe in whose territory the attack was carried out.
“This was an act of sabotage. These are elements that don’t want peace in South Waziristan and the tribal regions,” Shah said.
The journalists were coming back from a ceremony in Sararogha village, about 50 miles northeast of Wana, that was held to formalize a promise by militant leader Baitullah Mehsud to surrender and lay down his weapons in return for government amnesty.
Mehsud had been on the run since October after he was accused of being behind attacks on security forces and leading a band of local and foreign extremists in South Waziristan.
Standing before more than 2,000 tribesmen, Mehsud and about 35 supporters shook hands with senior government administrators to make peace, local cleric Maulana Ainullah said.