Death toll hits seven in Pakistan blast near cinema

The death toll in a car bombing near a Pakistani movie theater climbed overnight to seven, police said today, as the military surrounded Taliban strongholds elsewhere in the northwest region bordering Afghanistan.

The attack yesterday in the main northwestern city of Peshawar also wounded 80 people, police official Farid Ullah said Entertainment venues have been frequent targets of militants, many of whom deem such places un-Islamic.



Less than a week before in Peshawar, two bombs destroyed an Internet cafe and wrecked a bus carrying handicapped children, killing at least 11 people.



The attacks came as Taliban in the nearby Swat Valley tried to resist an army operation that has gained praise from the US, which has long pressed the country to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries along its northwest.



The army said yesterday it killed 17 suspected militants and captured four in the previous 24 hours. It also lost three troops, it said.



The offensive in Swat and surrounding areas has triggered an exodus of nearly 1.9 million refugees, more than 160,000 to camps and the rest to stay with relatives, friends or in rented accommodation.



Some fear that the generally broad public support for the military campaign could drain away if the refugees' plight worsens or if the army gets bogged down too long. The UN yesterday appealed for $543 million to provide food, schooling and health care to the displaced.



Yesterday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani downplayed the likelihood that the army would expand the offensive to the lawless, semiautonomous tribal regions bordering Afghanistan where militants have long had strongholds.



Reports that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said such an expansion was in the works have already led some families to leave South Waziristan tribal area, the main base of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.



However, many believe it would be difficult for the army to go into another territory before it finishes clearing the Taliban from Swat, something that could take months.



"It is not like this," Gilani said in response to a reporter's question about a possible new front in the offensive. "We are not foolish to do it everywhere."



Still, Gilani insisted the government would not allow anyone to challenge its authority.



The army claims to have killed more than 1,000 militants in the month-old offensive in Swat and neighboring districts, but said yesterday the Taliban still control Swat's main town of Mingora; Piochar, a side-valley farther north that is a Taliban base; and several other districts.



The army said those areas are increasingly surrounded by Pakistani troops.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
BMW factory
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen