- Associated Press - Monday, August 23, 2010

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) — Three bomb attacks in northwest Pakistan — two in tribal regions near the Afghan border and a third near the region’s main city of Peshawar — killed at least 36 people Monday, officials and a witness said.

Meanwhile, three suspected U.S. missiles fired from unmanned aircraft struck a house near Miran Shah in North Waziristan, killing nine alleged militants, said two intelligence officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to release the information to the media.

The blast on the outskirts of Peshawar killed the leader of an anti-Taliban militia, Israr Khan, and two aides as he passed through a market in the village of Matni, said police official Khurshid Khan. Three more people were injured.

The government supplies a string of militias with arms and money to fight the Taliban militants.

The deadliest blast was a suicide attack at a mosque inside a religious school in South Waziristan that killed 26 people and injured 40 more, said an intelligence official in the region. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the orders set down by his agency.

He said Maulana Noor Mohammad, a former lawmaker who ran the school, was among the dead.

Yar Mohammad, a local tribesman who was present inside the mosque, also said it was a suicide blast.

There was no claim of responsibility, though Islamist militants often have attacked clerics or others who do not support them. It was unclear whether Mr. Mohammad fell into that category. Militant and tribal factions also fight among themselves.

Earlier, a bomb exploded inside a school during a meeting of elders in Kurram tribal region, killing seven people.

Local official Khalid Umerzai said the elders at the meeting were discussing a disagreement over ownership of the school building. It wasn’t clear whether the blast was tied to that dispute or if it had been launched by Islamist militants.

The suspected U.S. missiles hit in a region dominated by the Haqqani network of Islamist militants determined to push U.S. and NATO forces out of Afghanistan. The region has been pounded by similar attacks over the past two years. Monday’s strike was the third since massive floods began covering much of Pakistan in late July.

Washington does not acknowledge firing the missiles, and details of the attacks typically remain scarce.

The army has launched offensives in South Waziristan and Kurram over the past 18 months.

There is little or no government presence in either area.

South Waziristan was affected by the floods that have swept Pakistan over the past month, with 18 bridges washed away and about three dozen deaths in the tribal area.

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