ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Three American soldiers were killed and two were wounded Wednesday in a bombing in troubled northwestern Pakistan that killed 10 people, including a Pakistani soldier and three children.
According to police officials in the region, the Americans' armored vehicle was in the middle of a convoy of Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps vehicles in the region of Lower Dir when it was attacked. The New York Times said it was told by officials that it was a suicide bombing; other news media described it as a roadside bomb.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban called reporters hours after the attack and claimed his group was responsible.
The soldiers were among 60 to 100 members of a special operations team that trains the Frontier Corps in counterinsurgency techniques, including intelligence gathering and development assistance.
The deaths of the Americans lifted the veil on U.S. military assistance that Pakistani authorities would like to keep quiet and Americans, as the donors, chafe at not receiving credit for.
The New York Times reported that it learned from a Frontier Corps officer that the American soldiers were dressed in a way that is common for Western men in Pakistan: traditional Pakistani garb of baggy trousers and long tunics, known as shalwar kameez, with local caps that helped cover their hair.
In July, the Obama administration's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, denied any American soldiers were in Pakistan. Asked about it in Islamabad, Holbrooke said: "People think that the U.S. has troops in Pakistan, well, we don't."
The Central Intelligence Agency operates the main American weapon in Pakistan, the pilotless drones armed with missiles that have targeted militants, including a strike Sunday that may have killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.
The American soldiers were probably targeted as a result of the drone strikes, said Syed Rifaat Hussain, professor of international relations at Islamabad University. "The attack seems a payback for the mounting frequency of the drone attacks," Hussain said.
The attack is likely to be a propaganda victory for the Pakistani Taliban. "They keep saying they want to fight against America. And here they are, the Americans, in Pakistan," said Mehmood Shah, an analyst who formerly was a senior Pakistani security official.
Information from the New York Times and McClatchy Newspapers was used in this report.