ISLAMABAD: Two suicide attackers bombed an Islamic university in the Pakistani capital today, killing two people and wounding 20 others, days after the army launched a critical offensive on a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border, authorities said.

The near simultaneous blasts hit a women’s cafeteria and a faculty building at Islamabad’s International

Islamic University.

Its president said he

suspected militants were

responsible.

The blasts follow a string of bloody militant attacks around the country in recent weeks and amid warnings of more triggered by the start of the assault on South Waziristan four days ago.

“It seems that (militant) sympathisers or collaborators are doing this to

divert attention from the military operation,” university president Dr Anwar

Hussain Siddiqui told The Associated Press.

“They are trying to create panic in the capital city.” The university’s sprawling campus, on the outskirts of the city, has more than 18,000 students, nearly half of them women. Many of the

students come from abroad, including around 700 from China.

It is a seat of Islamic

learning, but most of the students take secular subjects like management science

or computer studies, Siddiqui said.

No group claimed responsibility for today’s attacks.

The blast at the cafeteria left bits of flesh splattered

on the floor and shattered glass. The second attack

took place in the Islamic

law department.

TV footage showed a woman with a bloodied left leg being carried on a stretcher and a red brick building with shattered

windows.

Police superintendent

Abdul Ghafar Quaiserani said two people were killed and 20 were wounded, he said. Both attackers were also killed.

The army’s offensive in South Waziristan pits some 30,000 troops against 10,000 militants. The army has conducted three smaller scale offensives in South Waziristan since 2004, all unsuccessful.

Yesterday, the army said that troops backed by aerial bombing were steadily advancing on three fronts into the region and meeting stiff resistance in places. It said 78 militants and nine soldiers were killed over the last three days.

It is nearly impossible to verify independently the information because access to the region is blocked.

As many as 150,000 civilians - possibly more - have left South Waziristan in recent months. Authorities say that up to 200,000 people may flee in the coming weeks, but don’t expect to have to house them in camps because most have relatives in the region.