Pakistan still conflicted over battling Taliban

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's offensive to push Taliban militants from a district near the capital drew little criticism from local politicians and clerics - a sign that insurgents may have gone too far in trying to expand their reign in the region.

But despite that tacit acceptance, the nuclear-armed country remains far from consensus on the seriousness of the extremist threat it faces - and how to fight it.

The army said Wednesday that it has retaken the main town in Buner, a district 60 miles from Islamabad, which Taliban fighters overwhelmed this month in the wake of a peace deal that established Islamic law in the Swat Valley. The military said more than 50 Taliban fighters and one member of the security forces died in the offensive launched Tuesday amid U.S. pressure.

Taliban vows more attacks against surge

KABUL - The Taliban vowed Wednesday to launch a wave of attacks in a spring offensive as a surge of American troops arrives in Afghanistan, a threat delivered on the same day that 42 militants were reported killed in clashes.

Taliban leaders regularly boast of impending attacks that never materialize - such as proclaiming that hundreds or thousands of suicide bombers were waiting to attack around the country - but the new threat from a top-tier commander could signal a more aggressive stance.

A U.S. military spokesman said the Taliban's warning showed the militants are worried by the rising number of international troops.

Attack on Iraq's Shiites kills 41 in Sadr City

BAGHDAD - Twin car bombs ravaged a popular shopping area in Baghdad's biggest Shiite district Wednesday, killing at least 41 people in another powerful strike by suspected Sunni insurgents seeking a return to sectarian chaos.

In less than a week, blasts have struck the heart of Shiite traditions and unity: hitting Shiite pilgrims, a revered shrine and now teeming Sadr City in attacks that have claimed nearly 200 lives.

Scowling young men - joined by women shrouded in black - gathered around the bloodstained pavement and the twisted hulks of the cars, which had been parked about 100 yards apart near a restaurant and an ice cream stand.