Rival groups cease fire in Kurram on second day of clashes

Published October 25, 2021
Officials and residents of the area said on Sunday that so far 13 were killed and 16 others were injured in the clashes. — AP/File
Officials and residents of the area said on Sunday that so far 13 were killed and 16 others were injured in the clashes. — AP/File

KURRAM: Heavy contingents of security forces and police were sent to Kurram tribal district to enforce a ceasefire and clear trenches of rival groups, fighting over ownership of a forest.

Officials and residents of the area said on Sunday that so far 13 were killed and 16 others were injured in the clashes. They said that many of the injured were in critical condition. The clashes between the residents of Piwar and Giddo (Teri Mengal) — areas close to the foothills of Koh-i-Sufaid on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border — started on Saturday and continued until late on Sunday.

The district police officer, Tahir Iqbal, told journalists that joint efforts by the local elders, administration and army led to truce between the warring groups. He said that trenches were cleared and police and security forces were deployed to maintain peace.

He said that according to the ceasefire agreement, residents of Giddo and Piwar would not venture into the disputed area for collection of firewood. He said that the administration would take action in case of violation of the agreement.

Death toll reaches 13; 16 tribesmen receive injuries

The DPO said that the district administration in collaboration with the tribal elders would leave no stone unturned to ensure peace in the region. He said that the administration would strive to resolve all disputes among the tribes on permanent basis.

Disputes over land, forests and irrigation water bodies have long been a recurring phenomenon in Kurram and other districts of erstwhile Fata. Kurram, unlike the other six tribal districts of Khyber, Mohmand, Bajaur, Orakzai, North and South Waziristan and the six subdivisions, formerly known as Frontier Regions, has well-documented land settlement records.

These date back to the British era. Still, it remains susceptible to such conflicts like the other tribal districts.

Officials said that the administration constituted a jirga comprising elders of different tribes in Kurram to hold a ceasefire. The jirga was convened in Parachinar, the district headquarters of Kurram, on Saturday.

Clashes had erupted between rival tribes over the ownership of forest in the upper subdivision of Kurram on Saturday. Both sides have blamed each other for starting firing.

The doctors in the district headquarters hospital in Parachinar said that 10 wounded persons, many of them in critical condition, were brought there. Officials confirmed death of six people from Piwar including Syed Ali, Mohammad Hassan, Jawad Hussain, Gulfam Ali, Mazhar Ali and Rasheed.

In the wake of hostilities, mobile phone service was suspended in the area and traffic was also partially suspended on Thall-Parachinar road. Police and paramilitary forces were dispatched to the affected areas to contain violence.

Sources said that members of the jirga came under fire on Saturday and one of them was wounded. He was rushed to hospital in Parachinar. Locals said that firing had continued in the area unabated despite heavy rain and freezing temperature.

Abid Hussain, a member of the jirga, said that efforts for truce paid off. “This is the government’s responsibility to resolve disputes among the tribes to prevent such incidents,” he added. He said such disputes were a major reason of unrest in the tribal districts and had the potential to turn into sectarian hostilities.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2021

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