MIRAMSHAH, July 17: Three soldiers and a passerby were killed and two others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a security checkpoint in Mirali tehsil of North Waziristan Agency on Tuesday.

The bombing came amid reports that tribal negotiators had failed to persuade militants to revive the ten-month-old peace deal with the government, sources said.

Local people said that the bomber, who was going down the road on foot, detonated explosives strapped to his body at Khajori checkpoint, 35km west of Miramshah at about 1.30pm.

Three security forces personnel and an unknown passerby died on the spot, while two critically wounded soldiers were taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Bannu.

Meanwhile, Khasadars have abandoned their posts under threat from the militants.

Miramshah bazaar remained closed for fear of violence.

On Monday night, a checkpoint of the Khasaddar Force at Datakhel bus stand and a picket at the directorate of agriculture were blown up.

A three-member tribal jirga failed to bring the local Taliban shura to the negotiating table.

The sources said the militants had refused to return to the negotiating table unless the government withdrew its forces from the checkpoints which had been abandoned following the Sept 5, 2006, agreement.

The militants also want full payment of compensation and new guarantees that the government will not launch an operation in the region.

However, tribal parliamentarian Maulana Nek Zaman, who was leading the negotiations on behalf of the government, was optimistic that a breakthrough could be achieved in a few days.

He said that for the talks to succeed both sides would have to revisit the peace agreement and implement the decisions in letter and in spirit.

“It was clearly mentioned in the agreement that the security forces would not set up checkpoints in Miramshah,” he said.

“Both sides will have to realise that scrapping of the peace agreement is to nobody’s advantage. It is to the detriment of peace in the area and against the interests of the local tribesmen and the government,” he said.

Reuters adds: Militants have vowed to launch attacks on the forces.

“We will launch guerrilla attacks on the security forces,” militant spokesman Abdullah Farhad said by telephone late on Monday.

He said the militants would not attack army checkpoints in built-up areas to avoid civilian casualties.

Updated Jul 18, 2007 12:00am

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