Police: Blast at mosque in Pakistan kills 10

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Police say a bomb has exploded in a mosque in northwestern Pakistan, killing 10 people.

Police say the blast occurred during Friday prayers in the Haya Gai area of Upper Dir district, about 120 miles 200 kilometers northeast of Peshawar in the restive region near the Afghan border.

Violence has surged in the area in recent weeks and Taliban leaders say militants are stepping up attacks in retaliation for a military offensive in the nearby Swat Valley.

Police official Imran Khan says those killed in Friday's bombing were worshippers at the mosque. Police were seeking more details.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

GOT KOTO, Pakistan AP — Hundreds of Pakistani refugees were stopped from returning to their homes in the Swat Valley on Friday, even after the army chief said the battle against the Taliban there had "decisively turned" in the military's favor.

Meanwhile, intelligence officials said four soldiers died when a remote-controlled roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in South Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan that some suspect will be the next site of Pakistani military action against the Taliban.

Pakistani leaders insist they are serious about wiping out militancy in Swat, a one-time tourist haven that largely fell under Taliban control over the past two years. The U.S. backs the operation and sees it as a test of the government's resolve in taking on al-Qaida and Taliban militants along the Afghan border region.

The generally broad public support in Pakistan for the operation, however, could falter if conditions worsen for the up to 3 million displaced civilians, many of whom are impatient to go home.

U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke was in the country Friday assessing the refugee situation caused by the Swat fighting.

An Associated Press reporter on Friday saw hundreds of Swat residents at Got Koto, an area just outside the valley.

The Swatis had heard reports the government would lift a curfew in the main town of Mingora to let them return home. But security forces on a main road stopped them, saying they could not allow civilians back in just yet.

"I want nothing from the government. I only want that we should be allowed to go back to our Mingora city," said Dilawar Khan, 40, as his four children and two wives stood by him under the shade of a tree. Khan and his family had been staying at a relief camp in Mardan.

Zubayda Bibi, one of his wives, complained about conditions at the camps, located in areas that are much warmer than what Swat residents are accustomed to. "We can no longer sit at the camps where there is only dust, diseases and heat," she said. Even if damaged, "home is better than anything."

The army launched its latest operation in Swat about month ago after the militants undermined the peace deal brokered earlier this year by infiltrating a neighboring district just 60 miles 100 kilometers from the capital, Islamabad. That truce, in which the government agreed to impose Islamic law in the valley and surrounding areas, was mediated by Islamist cleric Sufi Muhammad.

The military said security forces detained Muhammad's deputy Maulana Alam, his spokesman Ameer Izzat Khan, and another aide, Syed Wahab, during a raid Thursday to nab suspected militants at a religious school in a district near Swat.

Officers seized eight hand grenades and other munitions at the site, the army statement said. Muhammad's whereabouts were not immediately clear, but various officials told the AP he was not detained.

Associated Press writers Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan and Munir Ahmad and Ashraf Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.

People look at the moon at the Temple of Hercules at the Citadel in Amman. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed