Continued from page 2

The lashkar had destroyed four militant hide-outs. The blast occurred moments after elders issued a fine against tribesmen accused of cooperating with the Taliban, exposing a dangerous rift in the community.

Tribal elder Malik Abdul Raheem lost three relatives and his left leg was shattered.

Pakistan has long employed political agents to administer each of its seven tribal agencies. Mr. Raheem, interviewed recently in a Peshawar hospital, said one came forward three months ago with an ultimatum: Help us fight the Taliban or suffer the consequences of a military onslaught.

Since the bombing, he said, the government has not delivered on its promise to give his tribe, the Alikhel, funding and better weapons.

Either way, he said, the Taliban collaborators belonging to a rival tribe that he suspects was behind the bombing will be held responsible.

“We may suffer more losses, but we will go for revenge because this is our culture,” he said.

Mr. Jan, the tribal leader from North Waziristan, said another tribal tradition - the authority of jirgas - offers the only hope for halting the cycle of violence in the region.

“The latest policy is destined to plunge the tribal areas into civil war, of that I have no doubt,” he said. “[Pashtun] vengeance is like that of a camel; it does not end.”

Sara A. Carter contributed to this story from Washington.