Roadside explosion near girls school kills at least six, inc 3 US soldiers

Three U.S. soldiers traveling with Pakistan security force members were killed on Wednesday in a roadside bomb attack in northwest Pakistan, Pakistani security officials said.

Pakistan's Express TV station reported 10 killed.

The three were in the region as part of a small, little-publicized U.S. mission to train members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps to better fight al-Qaida and Taliban militants, the officials said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The U.S. Embassy declined to comment. If the deaths are confirmed by American authorities, they would represent a major victory for militants close to the Afghan border who have been hit hard in recent months by a surge in U.S. missile strikes and a major Pakistani army offensive.

The blast hit a convoy close to a girls' school celebrating its opening in the Shahi Koto area of Lower Dir district.

At least seven people were killed, including a Pakistani soldier, officials said.

Around 70 people were wounded, among them many school girls, said an army statement and police chief Mumtaz Zarin Khan. Some officials said three schoolchildren also were among the dead.

Lower Dir shares a border with Afghanistan and with the Swat Valley, a region the army last year retook from militant control in an offensive.

As part of its offensive against militants in Swat, the Pakistani army has carried out operations in Lower Dir.

Local tribes have also set up militias to root out insurgents taking refuge in the area.

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