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3 U.S. Troops, 3 School Girls Killed In Pakistan Bomb Attack - Update

2/3/2010 7:48 AM ET

Three U.S. troops were among 7 people killed Wednesday in a roadside bomb blast in north-west Pakistan, reports say.

Three school girls and a Pakistani Frontier Corps member also died in the attack.

The Americans were military trainers attached to the Frontier Corps, a Pakistani paramilitary force that operates across North West Frontier province, Pakistan's chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said. Their convoy was driving past a Girls High School in Shahi Koto of the volatile northwestern district of Lower Dir when the bomb exploded.

The troops were traveling to attend the opening of another girls school in Maidan in the same district that had been built by the Corps with American funding.

At least 100 people, most of them school girls, were injured and 10 of them are in serious condition, reports quoting medicos said.

The bomb flattened much of the Koto Girls High School.

There were contradictory reports as to whether the explosion was caused by a suicide-bomber in a car or a timed roadside bomb.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has condemned the attack and ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Sufi Mohammad is based in North-West Frontier Province, which is a stronghold of the militant group.

Lower Dir shares a border with Afghanistan and with the Swat Valley. The region was the focus of a fierce military offensive last year to flush out Taliban militants.

More than 660 hardcore Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters have been killed in Pakistani troops' protracted military operation along the Afghan border in the North West, which is seen as crucial in defeating extremism in the nuclear-armed country. At least 70 soldiers were killed in militant retaliation.

However, the more-than two-months-old major military offensive has triggered a wave of terrorist attacks in that country, which claimed over 400 lives.

by RTT Staff Writer

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