Two bomb disposal technicians died in a roadside bomb explosion Saturday as they cleared a route for troops in a restive Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said.
The incident took place in the Barwand area of South Waziristan tribal district, one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal regions, which is considered a stronghold of Taliban militants.
"Two bomb disposal officials were clearing the route for troop movement when an improvised explosive device went off, killing both of them," a senior security official told AFP.
The semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border have for years been a hideout for Islamist militants of all stripes, including Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.
Pakistan began a long-awaited push to clear insurgent bases from North Waziristan last June after a bloody Taliban attack on Karachi airport finally sank faltering peace talks.
Washington has pressed Islamabad for years to wipe out the sanctuaries in the North Waziristan tribal area, which militants have used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Air strikes, artillery, mortars and ground troops have all been used to take back territory.