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
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss