Four people were killed and 30 injured when a car bomb ripped through a police station in northwest Pakistan on Friday, ending a month-long lull in Islamist attacks, officials said.
The powerful blast in the city of Mardan destroyed the police station and wrecked an adjoining hotel and several shops, and several people were trapped in the rubble, said local police officer Mohammad Akhtar Khan.
"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," Khan told AFP by telephone.
"Two policemen and two civilian workers were killed. Some people are still buried in the debris of the hotel building," Khan added.
A security official said 30 people were wounded in the explosion.
The blast is the first since Pakistan's new government was sworn in at the end of March vowing to hold talks with Taliban militants in the northwest and to reverse pro-US President Pervez Musharraf's strongarm tactics.
It came despite a unilateral ceasefire announced this week by Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, who has denied accusations by the previous government of masterminding the assassination of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto.
Mardan is the home town of the new chief minister of North West Frontier Province, Amir Haider Hoti, a secularist politician who is playing a key role in negotiations with the rebels.
The last bombing in Pakistan linked to Islamic militants was a suicide attack on an army base in the tribal area of South Waziristan on March 20, which killed five soldiers and wounded a dozen others.