Seven teachers among eight killed in Kurram attacks over ‘land dispute’

Published May 5, 2023
Ambulances carry victims’ coffins of those who were killed in the sectarian violence inside a school, in Parachinar on Thursday (May 4, 2023). — AFP
Ambulances carry victims’ coffins of those who were killed in the sectarian violence inside a school, in Parachinar on Thursday (May 4, 2023). — AFP

KURRAM: Gunmen killed eight people, including seven teachers, in separate attacks here on Thursday, officials said.

Police sources claimed a land dispute led to the killings.

They said the first gun attack was reported in Upper Kurram’s Shalozan Road area with resident Mohammad Sharif losing life.

The police sources said gunmen opened fire in an examination hall of the Government High School of Teri Mangal area killing Syed Hussain, Liaquat Hussain, Syed Ali Shah, Mehdi Hussain, Mohammad Ali, Ali Hussain and another invigilator.

In a video message, deputy commissioner of Kurram Syed Saiful Islam said the people were killed over a land dispute.

Caretaker chief minister seeks report

He, however, said the district administration, police and local elders were striving to restore the order. The DC promised a proper investigation into the killings.

Following the killings, a state of emergency was declared in the public sector hospitals of Kurram district. Medical superintendent of the district headquarters hospital Qaiser Abbas told Dawn that the body of the victim of the first gun attack was handed over to his family.

He said he had declared emergency in the hospital after learning about an increase in the number of the deceased and the injured.

Meanwhile, authorities closed roads across the district as a security measure following the killings, while the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Kohat, postponed the ongoing examination for matriculation.

Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Sajid Hussain Turi condemned the killing of teachers and said the attack was meant to destroy peace in the district.

The local officials told Dawn that the people were killed over a shamlat land not demarcated between Gedu and Pewar villages.

They said the land dispute dated back to 1950s and had claimed 16 lives on both sides in 2021 when Gedu villagers objected to the felling of trees by Pewar villagers to use the wood for fuel near their area.

The officials, however, said a jirga decided at the request of Pewar villagers that they would be allowed to chop trees down outside Gedu Mozzah and away from the site of the Nov 2022 killing. It also decided that the land would be demarcated in line with revenue records to resolve the dispute.

However, Gedu villagers backed out leaving the issue unresolved. The sources said gunmen attacked three Gedu people leaving one dead. The Gedu villagers blamed Pewar for the killing.

On Thursday, a Gedu villager was killed near the Upper Kurram area. A crowd retaliated and killed teachers in an exam hall.

Officials said recently, a delegation met the provincial governor and Kohat commissioner for the resolution of land disputes in Kurram tribal district. However, miscreants scuttled the process, they insisted.

A senior official claimed that the killings came over a land dispute between two villages and that it was not a sectarian issue as the two sides had people from both sects.

Meanwhile, caretaker Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan condemned the killings over land dispute and directed authorities to submit a report about them to him.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2023

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