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23 killed in double suicide blasts

A pair of suicide bombers have attacked the house of a top military officer in the city of Quetta in south west Pakistan, killing his wife and 22 other people - at least eight of them soldiers, authorities said.

Police said they were investigating whether the strike was revenge for the recent arrests of three top al Qaida suspects in the city, an operation that was assisted by the US intelligence agency, the CIA.

The first attacker detonated his vehicle next to a group of Frontier Corps officers close to the residence of the force's deputy chief in the region.

Hurling grenades, a second attacker than stormed the house and blew himself up inside it, said police officer Naseer Ahmed Kurd.

He said at least 19 people were killed and more were wounded.

The arrests of the al Qaida suspects were disclosed on Monday in an army statement that stressed the level of CIA involvement, a possible sign of an upswing in the two countries' often troubled relationship.

American officials praised the operation, saying the detention of the most senior militant - Younis al-Mauritani - was a significant achievement.

The Frontier Corps took part in the operation, the army statement said .

"This attack was maybe in reaction to the recent arrests, but we are investigating," police officer Hamid Shakil said.

He said one of the suicide bomber has been identified as Ahmed Gul, a 21-year-old Afghan refugee. Mr Shakil said the identification was made on the basis of a refugee card found with the body parts at the blast site.

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