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Military action likely in 29 Kurram villages

May 16, 2013

PESHAWAR, May 15: The government has formally declared a conflict zone 29 villages in Parachamkani area of Kurram Agency, where, officials say, security forces are gearing up for action against militants.

An official source in Fata Secretariat told Dawn on Wednesday that the office of the Fata secretary (law and order) had notified 29 villages of Parachamkani as a conflict zone on May 13 and that notification had been issued to all authorities concerned.Administratively Parachamkani is located in central subdivision of Kurram Agency, where the army and paramilitary forces backed by Pakistan Air Force had launched a coordinated operation against local and foreign militants.

Parts of central Kurram have been cleared from militants.

Parachamkani situated across Tora Bora, which witnessed relentless bombing in 2001, is the tail end of the mountainous central subdivision from eastern side adjacent to upper subdivision. The area has very rugged and tough terrain.

Trouble began in Parachamkani area when bomb exploded in election rally of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl candidate from NA-38, Muneer Khan Orakzai in Sewak village on May 5. The blast killed 26 people and injured dozens.

Election has been postponed in the area. Security forces bomb suspected locations triggering mass displacement.

Residents said the security forces’ convoys had entered the area and strategic hilltops in Spin Ghar (white mountain).

According to the notification, the area has been declared a conflict zone and local authorities have directed residents to vacate houses. Heavy deployment of army and paramilitary forces is underway in the area.

These villages notified as a conflict zone are Bamkhkak, Tabai, Takhtal, Khazs, Pass Mela, Daya, Donga, Bazai, Nargas, Khartal, Dadwas, Avidara, Sarpakh, Rego, Gondal, Garda Ghoni, Khazina, Ghokhal, Kot Miran, Shandawoni, Chapar, Kimal Baza, Said Karam, Manre and Tabai Tangi.

In addition, Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) in collaboration with the United Nations aid agencies is planning to begin registration of around 5,000 internally displaced families from Thursday.

Officials said around 6,000 more families would be dislocated from the area in the next few days and the relevant authorities had requested the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to intimate its partners to make all necessary arrangements to provide relief to displaced families.

They said the newly-displaced families would be accommodated at New Durrani Camp near Sadda in Kurram Agency, where 3,525 displaced families from central subdivision were already living. Over 180,000 families have already been displaced from different agencies of Fata due to violence and military operation during the last five years.

Local media while elders of Parachamkani reported that 64 people had died when they were shifting from troubled area to safe locations. An official however denied reports about loss of lives.

Local residents said exodus continued from Parachamkani and families were heading towards lower Kurram and adjacent districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.