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Nine killed in Peshawar bombing

A car bomb killed nine people close to the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar today, the latest in a series of attacks that are challenging recent police claims of progress against Islamist militants in the region.

Twenty others were wounded in the blast on a main road leading to Pakistan's border area with Afghanistan, said government official Siraj Ahmed Khan. Three children were among the dead.

It was the third major bombing in or near the city in the last week.

Government and security force targets in Peshawar have been often attacked by the Pakistani Taliban, who have bases close to the frontier with Afghanistan. Pakistani security forces have traditionally had very little presence or authority in the tribally ruled region.

In December, city police chief Liaquat Ali Khan pointed to a drop in attacks in 2010 as evidence authorities had "broken the back" of the insurgency in the city. He said the improvement was because of offensive police and army actions close to the border area and more police patrols and checkpoints in the city.

Also in the north west, a group of militants attacked a security post in the Anarggi area of Mohmand tribal region, killing three paramilitary soldiers and wounding four. The troops returned fire and killed 16 insurgents, said Javed Khan, a government administrator.

Like other tribal regions, Mohmand has seen anti-militant offensives by the Pakistani army over the past three years, but the militants have proven a tough enemy.

Elsewhere in the tribal area, several mortars fired from Afghanistan landed near an army checkpoint in the Ghulam Khan area of North Waziristan, killing one Pakistani soldier and wounding three others, said Pakistani intelligence officials.

Pakistani intelligence officials said the attack, which sparked an intense gun battle, came from an Afghan security post across the border.