Page last updated at 05:15 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 06:15 UK

Car bomb kills three in Pakistan

NWFP map

A car bomb has exploded in Pakistan's north-west ending a lull in attacks by Islamic militants which has held since a new government took over in March.

Police said three people died and 15 others were wounded when the bomb ripped through a police station in Mardan in North West Frontier Province.

The blast took place at 0600 local time (0100GMT). It destroyed the police station, and damaged a hotel and shops.

The dead included two civilians and a police officer.

'Deafening blast'

"There was a huge explosion. It was an apparent car bomb planted next to the wall between the hotel and the police station and both were wrecked," police officer Mohammad Akhtar Khan was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

Mr Khan said some people were still buried in the debris of the hotel building.

Eyewitness Sikander Khan said there were people inside the hotel and the shops were opening when the explosion happened.

"Then there was a deafening blast. Debris flew in the air and there was thick black smoke," he said.

Friday's blast is the first in Pakistan since a new government came to power at the end of March.

Soon after taking over, Pakistan's new Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani said the government will deal with Islamic militancy through dialogue and development.

The policy has been welcomed by Pakistani Taleban. On Thursday a top Taleban commander, Baitullah Mehsud, ordered his followers to stop all attacks in the country.

Mehsud is the man the Pakistani authorities say ordered the killing of Benazir Bhutto.

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