Villagers comfort a man mourning over the death of a family member, outside the governor's house in Peshawar, on Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013.—AP Photo

PESHAWAR: In a late night development, police was called in to disperse protesting tribesmen outside the governor house and move the bodies to a cold storage, DawnNews reported.

Police used tear gas and shelled at the tribesmen and others who had joined in the protest. The bodies were loaded on to trucks and taken to a morgue by the police. The move came following the rejection of an agreement between the tribal elders and Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Masood Kausar by the protesting tribesmen over the killing of 18 tribesmen in Bara tehsil.

According to the agreement, the government would conduct an impartial inquiry into the killings and punish those involved. The inquiry committee will also comprise judges and other stakeholders who would be included into the committee with the consent of the tribal elders.

The protesting tribesmen however rejected the settlement between the representative jirga and KP governor and are refused to bury their dead, saying they would continue with the sit-in protest until tribesmen were provided security.

PM takes notices of killings

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, had taken notice of the protest in Peshawar, telephoned KP Governor Masood Kausur and directed him to address the protesters’ grievances.

Governor Kuasar while speaking to the media after the jirga, said that seven lakh rupees each would be provided as compensation to the deceased’s family and four lakh rupees for burial of the deceased. Protestors however refused to accept the compensation amount and assurances to conduct an inquiry into the killings.

The KP governor had  said that an impartial inquiry would be conducted into the incident and if there were excesses proved, against anyone, the culprits would be penalised according to the law.

“It will not be a judicial inquiry, but it will have members of the judiciary as well,” he said.

The governor stated that if the tribal elders could guarantee no terrorist activity in their areas, the government would be ready to call back security forces. However he said that the army had been deployed at the request of tribal elders when they were unable to resist the militants onslaught.

Earlier on at least 400 to 500 tribesmen had marched from Bara to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial capital, carrying the bodies of the deceased in pick-ups and demanded justice for the victims.

The protestors accused security forces of the killings and demanded that the governor and authorities provide them justice. Security forces claim that the militant group Lashkar-i-Islam, led by Mangal Bagh, is behind the murders.

An elderly man, who was also protesting the killings, told Dawn.Com that his colleagues killed were simple labourers who had been killed in their homes allegedly by the security forces.

"They were taken out of their houses and were shot dead by the forces, it’s a routine now they don’t care who is being killed when they open fire, we have been tolerating it for almost four years," he said.

Peshawar’s main Railway Road was blocked for traffic due to the protest. Traffic on Sunheri Mashid and Peshawar Cantt roads was also suspended and security forces had sealed the entire cantonment area to stop protestors from entering the red security zone.

Protestors had carried placards and banners calling for an end to the ongoing military operation in their areas.

The tribesmen protested that undirected mortar bombs and artillery shelling have killed a number of innocent people in their area.

Security forces denied the allegations, claiming that the dead included a former Frontier Corps soldier’s father and four brothers – all five gunned down by militants on Tuesday night, they claimed.

Military sources said that militants from the banned Lashkar-i-Islam group had raided the house in Dogra area of former FC-man, Shabbir Ahmed, and gunned down his father and brothers.

“I was a government servant but I don’t know why this injustice done to me,” former FC official, Shabbir, who was also among the protestors outside the Governor House, told Dawn.com.

“I am serving the nation and working for the security of the country but don’t know why and who has killed my four brothers and father. The government must answer why this has been done to me,” he said.

Security forces claimed they had also launched a counter-attack after militants attacked several check-posts, killing six soldiers and injuring 28 others on Tuesday. Four militants were also killed in the clashes, they said.

The officials claimed that Lashkar-i-Islam militants, dressed in FC uniforms, were also involved in the killings of innocent tribesmen in a bid to malign the security forces.

They also further denied that any operation was carried out by the FC force in the area where the bodies were found.

Updated Jan 16, 2013 07:45pm

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