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Violence in Pakistan's Northwest Leaves 36 Dead


Pakistani officials say two suicide attacks in the volatile northwest claimed the lives of 19 people Thursday, while air strikes against extremist targets in the same region killed at least 17 suspected militants.

Authorities say 17 people were killed and more than 30 others wounded when a suicide bomber attacked a meeting of pro-government tribal leaders in the Bajaur region along the Afghan border.

They say the group was drawing up a plan to force al-Qaida and Taliban extremists out of their area when the attacker blew himself up.

Hours later, a bomber detonated his explosive-laden car near police headquarters in Mingora, the main town in nearby Swat Valley, killing two people.

Earlier Thursday, Pakistani fighter jets pounded militant targets in the area, leaving at least 17 suspected militants dead.

The government has been trying to regain control of both Bajaur and the Swat valley in recent months, after militants regrouped there from other areas on the Pakistani-Afghan border.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan has also been targeting Pakistan's tribal areas, from where many of the militants launch attacks on both sides of the border.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the chief of the U.S. Central Command, General David Petraeus, said three of the top 20 extremist leaders had been killed in the region recently. He did not identify those killed.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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