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Pakistani Politician Escapes Assassination Attempt

In northwestern Pakistan, a provincial minister narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in the city of Peshawar.

Police say three bystanders were killed during the attack on senior politician Bashir Bilour, and during the assailant's subsequent attempt to escape. The attacker blew himself up afterward. The politician was unhurt.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, more Pakistani tribal leaders have joined a peace deal with the government in the northwestern Bajaur region, agreeing to stop sheltering foreign militants in a region that is believed to have a large al-Qaida presence.

Leaders of the Salarzai and Utmankhel tribes on Wednesday signed onto the pact that was originally made Monday between the government and the region's largest tribe, the Mamond. Reports from Bajaur indicate that tribal elders in the main town of Khar have also agreed to the deal.

Officials say under the 28-point agreement, tribal leaders agree to disband any armed groups in Bajaur, and to ensure that local militants put down their weapons and stop fighting.

Six months of intense fighting between government troops and Islamic militants came to a halt a few weeks ago in Bajaur, which borders Afghanistan.

The agreement also bans attacking government officials or security forces, displaying heavy weapons and broadcasting anti-government propaganda messages, including broadcasts on Taliban-run clandestine radio stations. The tribes also promise to stop foreign militants from crossing the Afghan border.

The deal says the government can punish the tribal leaders with fines or other penalties if the tribe's members fail to stop fighting.

Pakistani authorities have previously signed similar pacts with local leaders in the restive tribal area near the border with Afghanistan, but they have generally fallen apart fairly quickly.

The local Taliban leader in Bajaur, Faqir Mohammad, declared a unilateral cease-fire late last month. Less than a week later, a Pakistani military commander said government troops had defeated militants in Bajaur after a six-month offensive, and now controlled the region.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.