Car Bomb Kills 3 in Pakistan as Government in Peace Talks With Taliban

Peace talks will go on even after a militant car bombing killed three people at a police station, Pakistan's new government and Taliban militants said.

Friday's attack ended a five-week lull in violence that coincided with the installment of a civilian administration seeking to distance itself from President Pervez Musharraf's unpopular U.S.-backed policies against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Details of a proposed peace accord covering a key militant stronghold on the Afghan border began to emerge. The planned deal is critical because it covers one of the country's top Taliban commanders, Baitullah Mehsud.

A senior Pakistani intelligence official said the deal included a commitment from the Mahsud tribe — to which Mehsud belongs — to stop attacks on Pakistani government targets and to prevent their territory from being used for terrorism in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials have accused Mehsud of links to al-Qaida and of responsibility for a wave of suicide bombings, including the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Friday's car bomb in the northwestern city of Mardan killed one police officer and two men working at a restaurant near the police station. Twenty-six people, including 18 policemen, were wounded.

Maulvi Umar, a spokesman for an umbrella group called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, said the bombing was to avenge the death of Taliban commander Hafiz Saidul Haq. Umar said police killed Haq about 10 days ago when he came to Mardan for his brother's wedding.

The umbrella group, which is led by Mehsud, distributed a flier earlier this week urging followers to observe a cease-fire. Umar said the decision to avenge Haq's death had been made earlier.

"We have a cease-fire with the government. But wherever the government will take action against us and will kill our friends, we will take revenge," Umar said by phone from an undisclosed location.

He said the Taliban had given a "good response" to the government's offer of talks through tribal leaders. He also claimed a peace deal could be signed within a week after a proposed tribal jirga, or council of elders.

A senior intelligence official, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of his job, said a draft accord's 15 points included a commitment to evict foreigners from their area.

In return, the government would gradually withdraw the army, deliver development projects, create jobs and discuss any conflicts that arise with the tribal elders.

There would also be an exchange of prisoners, the official said.

Mohammad Adeel, a leader of one of the parties in the new government, said the Mardan blast would not derail the talks.

"Even in the peace talks these things happen. Even after the agreement, some people will come and they will break the agreement but we will be very patient," Adeel said.