Suicide Bomber Kills 2 Troops in Pakistani Kashmir

ISLAMABAD (AP) - A suicide bomber blew himself up early Friday
near an army vehicle, killing at least two soldiers in the first
such assault in Pakistan's part of divided Kashmir, the military
said, marking a possible escalation in the militant campaign
against security forces.

The attack took place in Muzaffarabad, the region's capital. The
military said in a statement three other soldiers were wounded and
rushed to a nearby hospital.

Although Pakistan has witnessed scores of such attacks in recent
months, Friday's blast was the first in its portion of Kashmir,
which is divided between Pakistan and archrival India. Both nations
claim the mountainous region in its entirety.

For the past 20 years, India has accused Pakistan of harboring
Islamic militants in the region and helping them sneak across the
boundary into its part of the Himalayan enclave to launch attacks
on Indian security forces - although Pakistan has always denied
giving anything more than moral and diplomatic support to the
rebels.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday's
attack, but it could signal that Taliban militants facing Pakistani
army offensives in the northwest of the country are prepared to
retaliate against Pakistani forces in Kashmir as well.

Also Friday, a roadside bomb exploded near a military convoy
near Miran Shah, the main town in the troubled region of North
Waziristan, wounding at least three soldiers, two local
intelligence officials said, requesting anonymity as they were not
authorized to speak to media.

North Waziristan is part of the rugged, lawless tribal belt
along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and a Taliban stronghold.

The violence comes as the Pakistani military winds down its
offensive against militants in the northwestern Swat Valley and
gears up for an operation against Taliban leaders in South
Waziristan.


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