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In a targeted attack in the northwestern Pakistani district of North Waziristan, at least four female development workers have been killed, police claim, the latest attack in an escalation of violence in an area that once was the headquarters of the Pakistani Taliban.

The attack took place on Monday at 9:30 am (04:30 GMT) near the village of Ippi, a few kilometers east of the town of Mir Ali, Shafiullah Gandapur, a senior police officer, told Al Jazeera by telephone.

The vehicle of the staff was fired upon by unidentified assailants who, he said, then fled the scene. The vehicle’s driver was hospitalized and is being treated at a nearby hospital.

“This is a militancy-stricken district, the threat is here everywhere,” said Gandapur, when asked if there was a specific threat against development workers in the area.

“And in tribal culture, women roaming freely, it is considered not acceptable.”

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