Peshawar has been the scene of attacks due to conflict between state-backed militias and Islamist fighters [Reuters]

Four children and a driver of a school bus have been killed after gunmen opened fire on the vehicle in northwestern Pakistan.

The Taliban said they carried out Tuesday's assault in Matani, on the outskirts of the city Peshawar, to punish local tribesman for resisting their movement and siding with the government.

At least 14 others, including two girls and two female teachers, were wounded.

The bus was taking students home when the gunmen struck, said police officer Qayum Khan.

Two local tribal leaders in Matani have formed militias to stop Taliban infiltration into Peshawar from the nearby border regions with Afghanistan.They get government financial and logistical help, and have killed or captured many Taliban fighters over the last 18 months.

In return, they and their families have been targeted.

"This was to teach them a lesson, and we will continue to carry out attacks wherever and whenever possible, no matter if it is a school or a school bus,'' Mohammad Afridi, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman in the Dara
Adam Khel region, was quoted by AP as saying.

Most attacks have been on security forces and government or Western targets, but civilians have also been hit.

The Pakistani army, supported by the United States, is battling the Taliban in several regions and have launched major operations against them in the past couple years.

Source: Agencies