At Least Seven Dead in Theater Car Bombing

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - The death toll in a car bombing near a
Pakistani movie theater climbed overnight to seven, police said
Saturday, as the military surrounded Taliban strongholds elsewhere
in the northwest region bordering Afghanistan.

The attack Friday in the main northwestern city of Peshawar also
wounded 80 people, police official Farid Ullah said. Entertainment
venues have been frequent targets of militants, many of whom deem
such places un-Islamic.

Less than a week before in Peshawar, two bombs destroyed an
Internet cafe and wrecked a bus carrying handicapped children,
killing at least 11 people.

The attacks came as Taliban in the nearby Swat Valley tried to
resist an army operation that has gained praise from the U.S.,
which has long pressed the country to eliminate Taliban and
al-Qaida sanctuaries along its northwest.

The army said Friday it killed 17 suspected militants and
captured four in the previous 24 hours. It also lost three troops,
it said.

The offensive in Swat and surrounding areas has triggered an
exodus of nearly 1.9 million refugees, more than 160,000 to camps
and the rest to stay with relatives, friends or in rented
accommodation.

Some fear that the generally broad public support for the
military campaign could drain away if the refugees' plight worsens
or if the army gets bogged down too long. The U.N. on Friday
appealed for $543 million to provide food, schooling and health
care to the displaced.

The army claims to have killed more than 1,000 militants in the
month-old offensive, but said Friday the Taliban still control
Swat's main town of Mingora; Piochar, a side-valley farther north
that is a Taliban base; and several other districts.

The army said those areas are increasingly surrounded by
Pakistani troops.


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