ISLAMABAD — A suicide bomber killed nine people in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday just hours after peace talks between government negotiators and a team representing the Pakistani Taliban were delayed, officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on a hotel frequented by members of the Shi’ite Muslim minority sect. Suspicion is likely to fall on Sunni Islamic militants, who view Shi’ites as heretics, although the Pakistani Taliban denied any responsibility for the bombing.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been pushing for negotiations over military operations to end militant violence in the Islamic country, where over 40,000 people in recent years have been killed in acts of terrorism. Authorities blame most of the deaths on Pakistani Taliban.
But the bombing in the city of Peshawar, just yards from a Shi’ite mosque, underscores how difficult it will be to negotiate an end to fighting.
The suicide attack also wounded 30 people, said police official Shafqat Malik.
Both sides recently named their negotiating teams, which had been expected to meet Tuesday in the capital, Islamabad. But the process was marked by confusion from the beginning, with government negotiators failing to show up and sparking criticism from those speaking for the militants.
Maulana Samiul Haq, a Pakistani cleric picked by the Taliban to represent them, said his team had waited in vain. ‘‘We waited for the government team today, but they did not come,’’ he told reporters, claiming that authorities were under US pressure to avoid the talks.
A member of the government’s team, however, said his side had been waiting for the Taliban to confirm the identities of their negotiating team.
Rahimullah Yousufzai said that now that the government has received such confirmation, they were ready to meet.