Asia Crisis

REFILE-Roadside bomb kills police officer in Pakistan

(Adds missing word "bomb", deletes "Pakistani" in headline)

ISLAMABAD, May 24 (Reuters) - A roadside bomb hit the car of a police officer in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar on Saturday, killing him and his driver, police said.

Hundreds of people have been killed in a wave of bomb and suicide attacks across Pakistan since mid-2007, but violence had tapered off after the government that took office in March called for talks with Islamist militants to end militancy.

Most of the attacks have taken place in the northwest on the Afghan border where militants are very active. Peshawar is the capital of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The latest bomb was the fourth since mid-February.

The bomb hit the car of police officer Juma Khan as he was going to work in the morning.

"It was a remote-controlled device. Three passers-by were wounded in the blast," an official of the police bomb disposal department said.

Meanwhile, residents in the North Waziristan tribal region on Friday found a body of an Afghan man, apparently hanged to death, by suspected militants on suspicion of being a spy for the United States.

"A note was lying near the body which said he was a spy for Americans and the same treatment will be meted out to those who will become American agents," an intelligence official in Waziristan told Reuters.

Pakistan's new government led by the party of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who herself was killed in a suicide bombing in December, has begun a policy of engagement, negotiating through tribal leaders to persuade militants to stop their attacks.

Authorities this week signed a peace deal with the militants in the scenic Swat Valley and are close to cutting a similar agreement with Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of Pakistani Taliban and an al Qaeda ally.

Mehsud is blamed for the suicide attacks but he has denied his involvement in Bhutto's murder.

Pakistan's peace negotiations with militants have stoked concerns among its Western allies, notably the United States, which fear such pacts will enable militants to focus their attention on attacks in Afghanistan.

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, nominated to the military's top Middle East post, on Thursday said al Qaeda's top leaders were inside Pakistan's lawless tribal areas on the Afghan border and that the group's next major attack would likely originate there.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday played down concerns over his government's peace talks with the militants, saying it was engaging only with those who renounce violence.

Meanwhile, separately, a provincial leader from the party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was killed in a drive-by shooting in the southern city of Karachi on Friday, police said. (Reporting by Faris Ali and Haji Mujtaba; writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by John Chalmers)