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Bombers Attack Pakistani University


Suicide bombers in Pakistan's capital have attacked an Islamic university, continuing a wave of deadly assaults seen as retaliation for the army's new offensive against the Taliban.

Pakistani officials say the blasts at the International Islamic University in Islamabad killed at least six people, including two bombers. The explosions hit a faculty building and a women's cafeteria.

At least 20 people were wounded, most of them female students, who make up nearly half of the university's student population. The university is also popular with foreigners.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Tuesday the bombers are neither friends of Islam nor Pakistan.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Malik said all terrorist attacks in Pakistan lead back to South Waziristan, where the military is carrying out its anti-Taliban offensive.

Pakistani security officials Tuesday said they were repelled from the key town of Kotkai in South Waziristan after coming close to taking control of it.

The army says troops have killed nearly 100 militants since the operation began Saturday.

There is no independent confirmation of the army's or the militants' accounts of the fighting because no journalists are traveling with the Pakistani military and the region is extremely dangerous for outsiders.

Pakistani army commanders say some 30-thousand troops are battling about 10-thousand militants in South Waziristan, including foreigners. They say they expect the offensive to last six to eight weeks, before winter weather makes fighting difficult.

Officials say more than 100-thousand civilians fled South Waziristan before the assault, and that thousands more left their homes in the past few days.

Many schools in Pakistan closed this week, fearing retaliatory violence stemming from the offensive.

The United Nations refugee agency says it has begun distributing non-food relief items to the displaced.
A spokesman for the agency (Andrej Mahecic) said humanitarian aid will need to be extended to hospitals, schools and other public facilities that will come under strain from the large influx of people. A spokesman for the World Health Organization (Paul Garwood) says health supplies in the area already are inadequate.

Authorities blame extremists in the Waziristan region for attacks across the country that killed more than 175 people in the last two weeks.

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