Fresh sectarian clashes in northwest Pakistan, toll climbs to 47
Pakistan's northwestern frontier province is once again in the severe grip of sectarian violence. Fresh clashes broke out between rival Shia and Sunni groups in northwest Pakistan as a truce brokered by tribal elders collapsed due to new attacks by Taliban fighters, with the toll reaching 47 in four days.
Taliban cadres from the nearby Aurakzai Agency, who are backing the Sunni tribesmen, refused to accept the terms of a ceasefire brokered yesterday by a peace committee in Hangu district comprising local officials and tribal elders.
The Taliban then launched attacks, targeting positions of Shia tribesmen with mortars and rockets, and the fresh fighting claimed seven more lives.
Forty people died earlier in the clashes that began on Friday. More than 60 people have also been injured.
Six militants, including three local commanders, were killed and as many were injured in Saidan Banda area of Hangu as the death toll in the three days of sectarian clashes hit 40, sources said on Sunday.
Sources said three local commanders, Maulvi Nadeem, Momin and Ihsanullah, were among the six militants killed in sectarian clashes in Saidan Banda and Pass Kellay, while six civilians were also injured.
Also, about 20 houses were reduced to ashes by the rival groups in Khanbari area of the district. The houses were empty, as the people had already migrated to safer places. Meanwhile, a peace Jirga was held at the DCO office, which was attended by Kohat RCO Omar Afridi and RPO Qudratullah Marwat, Hangu DCO Mujeebur Rehman and DPO Sajjad Khan, besides District Nazim Khan Afzal, Syed Ali Shah, Allama Khursheed Ahmed Jawadi, Jawadul Hassan, Maulana Tehsinullah, Maulana Muhammad Amin and Maulana Jaleel.
The Jirga met for the second time at the DCO office, which brokered a ceasefire between the rival groups, the sources said.
Earlier, the clashes between the armed groups continued in various areas, including Sangarabad, Bahadur Ghari, Saidan Banda, Mardokhel Banda, Kach Banda, Ibrahimzai, Nerobaag, Sheikhan Kellay and Lakhtay Banda throughout the day.
Heavy weapons, including rockets, mortar shells and missiles were used in the clashes. The security forces shelled the hideouts of rival groups through gunship helicopters, injuring six civilians in Pass Kellay.
At least, 40 persons have been killed and 51 injured since the clashes erupted on Friday. Eyewitnesses said the local people started migration to safer places, while most of the rural areas of the district were facing water shortage and power suspension.
A mortar shell fired by unidentified miscreants hit a house, leaving one person dead and two others injured at Qureshabad village. Despite the ceasefire announcement made by the peace Jirga, firing continued between the rival groups, which were using heavy arms and ammunition.