PESHAWAR - Helicopter gunships and bulldozers destroyed dozens of shops in a restive northwestern tribal area on Tuesday after a bomb attack on a military convoy wounded five soldiers, officials said.

The incident took place in Wana, the main town of troubled South Waziristan district, where the military is battling Taliban militants.

“At least five soldiers were wounded when a bomb planted on a roadside exploded as a military convoy passed,” a local security official told AFP. Security forces immediately launched a search operation and called in air support, he added. Local administration and intelligence officials and residents said helicopters bombed the market at Wana by-pass road and later bulldozers razed dozens of shops belonging to suspected militants. A curfew has been imposed in Wana and military helicopters were hovering above, they said. Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency since 2004, following the US-led invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan in 2001 and the subsequent spillover of militants across the border.

Officials say more than 3,500 militants have been killed since the launch of the latest offensive in neighbouring North Waziristan last year.