The deaths of three U.S. special-operations soldiers in a roadside bombing in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday drew unwanted attention to...

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SHAHI KOTO, Pakistan — The deaths of three U.S. special-operations soldiers in a roadside bombing in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday drew unwanted attention to a U.S. program of training local forces to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida, a little-publicized mission because of Pakistani opposition to U.S. troops on Pakistani soil.

The killings were the first known U.S. military fatalities in nearly three years in Pakistan’s Afghan border region, where militants are being pummeled by U.S. missile strikes and struggling to regroup after the loss of a key stronghold in a recent Pakistani army offensive.

The blast also killed three girls at a nearby school and a Pakistani paramilitary soldier traveling with the Americans. Two more U.S. soldiers were wounded, along with about 100 other people, mostly students at the school.

The U.S. special envoy to Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said the blast was caused by a roadside bomb. Local officials said it was detonated by remote control, but at least one police officer said it was a suicide attack.

Witnesses said the vehicle carrying the Americans took the brunt of the explosion as a five-car convoy traveled along the road in Lower Dir.

Lower Dir is a base for fighters belonging to the Pakistani Taliban.

The soldiers were part of a small group of U.S. soldiers training members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, Pakistan’s army and the U.S. Embassy said.