A top Pakistani military spokesman says he cannot rule out the possibility that two high-ranking prisoners killed in an attack on a military convoy were specifically targeted.
Major General Athar Abbas says the prisoners died when militants attacked with a roadside bomb and gunfire early Saturday.
Pakistani officials identified the prisoners as Muhammad Alam and Ameer Izzat. The two men were arrested Thursday and were senior members of the former militant group Tehrik-e-Nifaz-i-Shariat-e-Muhmmadi. Alam was a deputy while Izzat was the group's spokesman.
Major General Abbas say the men were being taken from Malakand to the city of Peshawar for interrogation.
The group's leader, Maulana Sufi Muhammad, helped negotiate the failed peace deal in the greater Swat Valley that required militants to disarm in exchange for the establishment of strict Islamic law there.
Pakistani officials say one soldier was killed and five others wounded in the attack.
A political scientist at Lahore University Rasul Bahksh Rais told a Pakistani television network (Express 24/7) the killings may have been deliberate to prevent Alam and Izzat from giving the military information about militant leaders' whereabouts.
The attack came a day after a lone suicide bomber struck a mosque in the region, killing at least 38 people during Friday prayers.
Police say scores of others were wounded in the attack at a mosque in a remote village in Upper Dir district. They say worshippers did not recognize the man and confronted him before he blew himself up.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Friday's bomb attack and reiterated his rejection of what he called "such indiscriminate and reprehensible acts of violence."
The region is near Swat valley, where the Pakistani military has been battling Taliban fighters for more than a month. No one claimed responsibility for the blast, but some local officials suspected militants were taking revenge for the offensive.
Pakistan say more than 1,300 militants and more than 100 soldiers have been killed during the offensive. A Pakistani military spokesman says government forces have killed 17 militants in the past 24 hours.
Some information for this report was provided by
AP and AFP.