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Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 18:31 UK

Pakistan student convoy 'missing'

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Police in north-western Pakistan say several hundred students are missing in a tribal area near the Afghan border.

Unconfirmed reports from the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan say the students, teachers and relatives may have been kidnapped by militants.

Further north, troops are tightening their hold on Mingora, the main town in the Swat valley, after retaking it from the Taliban at the weekend.

In the town of Kohat, a blast at a bus terminal killed at least two people.

Attack fears

Reports say a convoy of about 30 minibuses carrying the students left Razmak Cadet College in North Waziristan bound for the town of Bannu.

Only two minibuses turned up, police say.

"Two vehicles carrying some 25 students reached Bannu, we are investigating about other students," local police chief Iqbal Marwat told the AFP news agency.

According to witnesses who escaped the convoy was stopped by a group of heavily armed men. Police officials quote these witnesses as saying a large number of people have been kidnapped, although there are conflicting reports about how many.

There has been a rise in violent incidents in recent days in the tribal areas next to the Afghan border.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Islamabad says officials believe militants are trying to divert attention away from a major military offensive in the Swat valley.

Fears of attacks by militants have increased after a military offensive against the Taliban in parts of the north-west.

Sebastien Brack of the Red Cross explains what his team found in the Swat valley

The militants said they had carried out a massive bombing in the city of Lahore last week and have threatened more attacks.

Pakistani troops are still fighting against Taliban militants in the Swat valley, pushing northwards from Mingora, which is now under full government control.

The authorities say more than 1,200 militants and about 90 soldiers have been killed since their offensive began in a neighbouring district nearly six weeks ago.

There has been no official word about civilian casualties, and no independent confirmation of the military's claims.

An estimated 2.5 million people have fled from the fighting, but tens of thousands who were trapped in their homes are in even greater need of assistance.

'Retaliation'

The blast which killed two in Kohat, an important garrison town in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), injured at least eight others, officials say.

Police say a bomb went off in a crowded bus terminal on Monday afternoon.

Kohat police chief Mohammad Idrees said the attack could be retaliation for police operations against the militants, the Associated Press reported.

Taliban militants were driven out of Mingora, Swat's main town, on Saturday by Pakistani government troops.

Officials said operations in the whole Swat valley region should end in the next few days, although military chiefs are more cautious



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