A car bomb exploded Monday in Christian east Beirut as Phalange Party chief George Saade drove by. Police said three people were killed and 17 wounded.

Police said Saade, 57, escaped injury although his bullet-prooof Alfa Romeo was damaged. The Phalange chief was escorted by three carloads of bodyguards, and two of the guards were among those killed.There was no claim of responsibility for the attack. Saade's party is a major force in the Christian camp that has been fighting Syrian-backed Moslems in the nearly 14-year-old civil war.

Also Monday, leaders of the country's Shiite Moslem factions signed a peace treaty intended to end the nine months of Shiite militia fighting in which more than 500 people have died.

The official Syrian news agency said the agreement signed by the Syrian-backed Amal and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah calls for an immediate cease-fire. The pact also provides for the exchange of prisoners, an end to hostile propaganda, formation of a joint operations center in south Lebanon to counter Israel and creation of a committee to regulate relations between the two factions.

The Shiite battle has aggravated Lebanon's civil war and strained ties between Syria and Iran. Previous cease-fires arranged by Syria and Iran have fallen apart.

Saade's motorcade was on a boulevard in the Furn el-Shubback residential district when a red Renault packed with 110 pounds of TNT blew up at 10:30 a.m., police said.

About 10 cars were destroyed in the blast, including two vans belonging to Middle East Airlines, the country's national carrier.

An hour after the blast, Saade reassured his partisans in a statement broadcast over the Phalange's radio station, Voice of Lebanon.

"I don't believe I was the target of an assassination attempt because no one could possibly have known that I was going to be driving through this particular area," Saade said.