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80 die in blasts; Taliban say it's revenge

Supporters of a Pakistani religious group Jamaat-e-Islami attend an anti American rally in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 6, 2011. Osama bin Laden was killed by a U.S. special forces in a secret operation on Monday, in a house in Abbottabad. UPI/Sajjad Ali Qureshi
1 of 3 | Supporters of a Pakistani religious group Jamaat-e-Islami attend an anti American rally in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 6, 2011. Osama bin Laden was killed by a U.S. special forces in a secret operation on Monday, in a house in Abbottabad. UPI/Sajjad Ali Qureshi | License Photo

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 13 (UPI) -- Two suicide bombings claimed by the Taliban killed at least 80 people Friday at a military training center Pakistan's violence-torn northwest, police said.

The Pakistani Taliban said the attacks were in retaliation for the May 2 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, CNN reported.

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The twin attacks at the Shabqadar Fort Frontier Corps training center in the Charsadda district also wounded about 140 people, CNN reported, quoting provincial Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour. Most of the victims were recruits.

Police official Jahan Zeb Khan said the explosions occurred as the recruits attended their graduation after completing nine months of training, CNN reported.

One of the bombers was in a car outside the fort when he detonated explosives about 6 a.m., The New York Times reported.

It was one of the worst attacks targeting a security installation in the region.

Charsadda is about 20 miles northeast of the provincial capital of Peshawar and is near one of the tribal areas of Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan, where the Pakistani military is involved in a campaign against the militants.

In December, a similar attack on a government building in a nearby tribal area killed at least 40 people.

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Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces during a raid on his compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, northeast of the capital Islamabad. Several militants have since vowed to avenge his death.

"Pakistani and the U.S. forces should be ready for more attacks," said Taliban spokesman Ihsan Ullah Ihsan, accusing the Pakistani military of revealing bin Laden's location. "Osama was our great leader and the killers of Osama will have to pay its price."

The Times report said the Pakistani army, which has suffered heavy casualties, recently opened a new phase of its two-year-long campaign to drive the militants out of the Mohmand tribal area.

The country's northwest region has been the scene of escalating militant violence that has claimed hundreds of lives in recent years. Most of the attacks have been aimed at Pakistani security force installations apparently in retaliation for the military's anti-terrorism campaign.

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