- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 17, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan | Bombs destroyed an Internet cafe, wrecked a bus carrying handicapped children and spread panic through Pakistan’s main northwestern city on Saturday, killing at least 11 people in a day of carnage across the militancy-plagued region.

An apparent U.S. missile strike annihilated a Taliban raiding party attempting to cross into Afghanistan, officials said, while Pakistani troops claimed another 47 kills in their bid to retake the Swat Valley.

The first of two bombs to explode in Peshawar on Saturday was hidden in a car and devastated a street busy with traffic, shoppers and worshippers heading to mosques to pray.

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

All eight students still on board were injured, one seriously, along with the driver and an assistant, medics and police said. Four other children and seven adults were killed, and dozens more people injured, they said.

Safwat Ghayur, a senior police official, said one of several buildings badly damaged by the blast was an Internet cafe - a favorite target for violent Islamic extremists in Pakistan who consider the Web a source of moral corruption.

Mr. Ghayur said the cafe had received several threats and was attacked recently by gunmen. But it was not clear if any of the bomb victims had been in the cafe or if it was the intended target.

No group claimed responsibility for the car bomb, or a smaller explosion later that the evening in a bazaar filled with women’s clothing stores that police said injured four people.

Militants have vowed to carry out a constant stream of attacks in Pakistan in retaliation for dozens of American missile attacks on their strongholds in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

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

Two intelligence officials, citing reports from agents in the field, said 29 people were killed in the attack, including four foreign militants, and dozens more were wounded.

Officials said the school was being used as a training camp by Gul Bahadur, a prominent Taliban commander, and that the group had been preparing for a mission in Afghanistan.

Further north, the Pakistani army was preparing to assail Taliban militants entrenched in Mingora, the main town in the embattled Swat Valley, from where nearly a million civilians have fled duringa three-week military offensive. About 100,000 are housed in sweltering camps south of the war zone.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said Saturday that 47 militants had been killed in the previous 24 hours and that one pocket of the valley near the town of Khwazakhela was safe enough for residents to return. Militants had blocked roads around Mingora to hamper troops encircling the town, he said.

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