Three American soldiers were among eight people killed when a roadside bomb struck their convoy in northwestern Pakistan. Taliban militants are said to have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Authorities say a security convoy carrying five American military personnel was the target of the attack in the Lower Dir District. The northwestern Pakistani region is a well-known former stronghold of the Taliban.
U.S. and Pakistani officials say the American military personnel were part of a small unit training soldiers of the paramilitary force known as the Frontier Corps to better fight al-Qaida and Taliban militants.
The victims were on their way to attend the opening ceremony of a school for girls that had been renovated with U.S humanitarian assistance.
District police officer Mumtaz Zareen, tells VOA that militants detonated the bomb as soon as the convoy approached the school. He says the powerful explosion instantly killed three of the U.S. troops and a local soldier, while dozens of others were wounded.
The police chief says the powerful explosion destroyed the school building and at least four female students were buried under the rubble. He says many others were wounded and taken to the nearby hospital.
A U.S. embassy statement condemned the attack in Lower Dir, saying it "clearly shows the vision of the terrorists."
The northwestern Pakistani region borders the scenic Swat valley and several other districts where Taliban militants had set up their bases until early last year when a major military offensive largely cleared most of the areas.
The United States is closely cooperating with Pakistan to train the Frontier Corps paramilitary force, which is playing a leading role in the fight against al-Qaida and Taliban militants in northwestern parts of the country bordering Afghanistan. But the force has been under-equipped and under trained for fighting an insurgency.
Pakistan has never officially announced the U.S. training mission, which has reportedly been in place since 2008.