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Violence across northern Pakistan

Eleven people are killed in two bomb blasts in Peshawar; 29 villagers are reported killed in suspected drone attacks in North Waziristan; and 49 Taliban militants are slain by troops in Swat.

May 17, 2009|Zulfiqar Ali

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — A car bomb ripped through an Internet cafe and other businesses Saturday in a congested neighborhood of Peshawar, killing at least 11 people, including two disabled students and two teachers in a passing bus.

A second bomb exploded in the northwestern city several hours later, wounding four people.

The bombings came amid continued bloodshed across Pakistan, with residents of a rural tribal region reporting 29 deaths from a suspected U.S. drone missile attack on a village and Pakistani authorities reporting that they had killed 47 more militants in their campaign to retake the Swat Valley.

The first bombing in Peshawar occurred about 1:25 p.m. as a bus from the Educational Institute for Special Children was passing near the historic Asiya Gate.

At least 15 vehicles, including the school bus, were destroyed or heavily damaged. Several nearby shops were also damaged. The windows of many houses on both sides of the circular road were shattered.

Authorities said that about 30 mortar shells were packed in a car, set off by a timer.

Television news showed the damaged white-and-green school bus that had been taking disabled children to their homes around the city.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for that bombing or for the second, a smaller explosion.

Residents of the North Waziristan tribal region said two missiles believed fired by drone aircraft hit a residential compound in Khaisore village about 8 a.m, killing 29.

A house was reduced to rubble and a nearby seminary was damaged.

Residents said it was the third drone attack on the village since such attacks against militant targets began in the tribal belt.

In the Swat Valley campaign, the Pakistani army says it has killed more than 800 of an estimated 4,000 Taliban militants in the area and that many have fled or disguised themselves to blend in with people fleeing the fighting.

Meanwhile, the government sought Saturday to counter speculation that extremists could seize Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gillani complained of an "orchestrated campaign" to "discredit Pakistan's nuclear capability."

"We are determined to retain nuclear deterrence at all cost while ensuring fail-safe security of our nuclear assets," he told lawmakers, according to a statement from his office.

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Ali is a special correspondent. The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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