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Bombing, missile strike kill dozens in Pakistan

/ Source: The Associated Press

A car bomb destroyed an Internet cafe and tore through a bus carrying handicapped children in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 11 people and wounding many more, police said.

Elsewhere in the troubled region, an apparent U.S. missile strike destroyed a Taliban training camp, killing 25 militants, while Pakistani troops killed dozens of Taliban in their bid to re-conquer the Swat Valley, officials said.

Violence is engulfing Pakistani territory along the Afghan border as American and allied forces crank up the pressure on al-Qaida and Taliban militants entrenched in the forbidding and barely governed mountains and valleys.

Washington and other nations are pouring in billions of dollars in aid and military assistance to prop up the pro-Western government in Islamabad, which on Saturday sought to allay concerns that its nuclear weapons could fall into extremist hands.

Street devastated
The car bomb devastated a street in the main northwestern city of Peshawar on Saturday afternoon as it was busy with shoppers and traffic.

Television images showed several vehicles burning fiercely and a stricken white-and-green bus that had been dropping handicapped children at their homes around the city.

The eight students still on board were injured, one seriously, medics and police said. Four other children and seven adults were killed, and dozens more were injured, they said.

Safwat Ghayur, a senior police official, said one of a string of shops wrecked by the blast was an Internet cafe — a favorite target for violent Islamist extremists in Pakistan who consider the Web a source of moral corruption.

Ghayur said the cafe had received several threats and even been attacked recently by gunmen. He said police were holding suspects in the shooting, but refused to elaborate.

It was unclear if any of the victims had been in the cafe or if it was the intended target. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Militants have threatened more attacks in Pakistan in retaliation for dozens of American missile attacks on their strongholds in Pakistan's tribal areas.

School and vehicles reportedly struck
In the latest strike, Pakistani officials said several missiles hit a religious school and a nearby vehicle on Saturday morning in Mir Ali, a town in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Two intelligence officials, citing reports from agents in the field, said at least 25 people were killed, including two foreign militants, and dozens more were wounded.

The identity of the victims was not immediately clear, the officials said. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly to the media.

However, they said the school was being used as a training camp by Gul Bahadur, a prominent Taliban commander believed to be involved in fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.