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Bomb kills 9 soldiers in northwest Pakistan

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ASIF SHAHZAD | September 1, 2013 12:36 PM EST | AP

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ISLAMABAD — A roadside bomb targeting a passing Pakistani army convoy exploded Sunday, killing nine soldiers in a tribal region near the border with Afghanistan, authorities said.

The roadside bomb exploded in a village near Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area, the army said in a statement. It said the bombing killed nine soldiers, but did not say if anyone was wounded in the attack.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which happened in a region home to a mix of local Pakistani, Afghan and al-Qaida-linked foreign militants.

Pakistan has been dragging its feet in launching a military offensive against the militants in the region, saying that it's forces were already too stretched fighting the militancy in other tribal areas along the border.

The outgoing Pakistani government of President Zardari carried out several military offensives against the insurgents. The newly elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a stated policy that it will give priority to a peace dialogue with the homegrown militants instead fighting them out. Sharif's party also took this line as one of the main themes of his campaigning for May 11 elections, which brought him in power.

While there's no Pakistani military offensive in the region, the U.S. carries out suspected drone strikes there targeting militants. One such suspected strike Saturday killed three alleged foreign militants in an abandoned seminary in the region. In a statement, Pakistan's foreign ministry condemned the strike, calling them "unilateral" and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

While a source of tension with the U.S., Pakistan is believed to privately support some strikes.