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Pakistan blast kills 7


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A roadside bomb killed 3 U.S. soldiers and flattened a girls' school in northwest Pakistan today in an attack that drew attention to a little-publicized American military training mission in the al-Qaida and Taliban heartland. They were the first known U.S. military fatalities in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions near the Afghan border, and a major victory for militants who have been hit hard by a surge of U.S. missile strikes and a major Pakistani army offensive. The blast also killed three schoolgirls and a Pakistani soldier who was traveling with the Americans. Two more U.S. soldiers were wounded, along with more than 70 other people, mostly students, officials said. The attack took place in Lower Dir, which like much of the northwest is home to pockets of militants. The Pakistani army launched a major operation in Lower Dir and the nearby Swat Valley last year that succeeded in pushing the insurgents out, but isolated attacks have continued. The Americans were traveling with Pakistani security officers in a five-car convoy that was hit by a roadside bomb close to the Koto Girls High School. The blast flattened much of the school, leaving books, bags and pens strewn in the rubble.


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