A local lashkar allied to Pakistani soldiers on Thursday claimed to have killed at least 167 militants in two months, an indication of the growing reach of private armies in the northwest. Officials have said up to 1,000 villagers in Upper Dir formed a lashkar two months ago to avenge a mosque bombing that killed 38 people on June 5 in the village of Hayagai Sharqai. "We started with 200 men and now there are 3,000 people," Malik Moatbir Khan, the chief of the vigilante force, told a foreign news agency. "We have killed 167 Taliban militants so far in many gunfights helped by the army," Khan said, adding that 97 volunteers were also "martyred." Suicide and bomb attacks have killed 2,000 people in Pakistan in the last two years. Government forces have been bogged down, fighting for years against Taliban militants spreading out of tribal areas into settled areas.