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Blasts Take More Than 20 Lives in Northwest Pakistan


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Police in Pakistan say three explosions in the northwestern part of the country have killed more than 20 people. Friday's violence comes as the military finishes the first week of its offensive against Taliban extremists near the Afghan border.

Police say a suicide bomber struck a checkpoint Friday morning near a key military air base.

The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra, northwest of the capital Islamabad, is a major site for Pakistan's air force maintenance and research.

A police official says there was adequate security to stop the bomber at the first checkpoint leading to the complex. He also says there were several pedestrians in the area.

Hours later, authorities in the northwestern city of Peshawar say a car bomb exploded outside a restaurant.

The head of the bomb disposal squad told reporters that officials believe the car bomb was triggered remotely. He said authorities have found the car's engine number, which can be used to help hunt down the attackers.

Shortly after the explosion, officials in the Mohmand tribal region said a blast struck a passenger bus, killing civilians - including women and children - on their way to a wedding.

In recent weeks, suspected Taliban militants have launched a series of attacks, hitting police centers, the army's headquarters, a United Nations office and an Islamic university.

There have been at least five instances of violence since the Pakistani military began its offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan.

Authorities have tightened security across the country, as well as closed educational institutions.

Pakistani peace activist Natasha Kamal tells VOA there is a general fear of where the next attack might occur.

"This is exactly what these terrorists are looking for, to scare everybody to make all of us just sit tight in our homes, do not let our children go to school or college or even anywhere else and us not going outside or having a normal life," said Kamal.

Army officials say troops have killed at least 128 militants in the South Waziristan tribal region, while 18 soldiers have died in the intense fighting.

There is no independent confirmation of the tolls, as the region is closed to outsiders and is dangerous even for local reporters to visit.

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