WANA, Nov 7: NWFP Governor Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai escaped unhurt as rockets rained on a heavily fortified security camp during his address to a jirga in Wana, headquarters of the tribal South Waziristan agency, on Tuesday.
A retired army general, Mr Aurakzai, on his first visit to Wana since he took over as governor earlier this year, cancelled other engagements and immediately flew to the provincial capital by helicopter.
His quick departure did not cause a let-up in attacks and four more rockets landed in the Wana Scouts camp, leaving at least one paramilitary soldier, Khandan Afridi, injured.
A government spokesman told Dawn in Peshawar that in the first attack, two rockets had flown over the tribal gathering, mainly consisting of Ahmadzai Wazir and Mehsud tribesmen, and landed on an adjoining airfield.
The strife-hit tribal town near the Afghan border shook violently when security forces retaliated by firing mortar shells for a good 40 minutes at the nearby hills from where the rockets appeared to have come.
The NWFP governor is widely credited with brokering a landmark peace accord with North Waziristan militants who promised to halt cross-border movement and stop attacks on government installations and security forces.
He told the Wana jirga on Tuesday that all issues of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas would be resolved through a jirga system in the future, says a government handout issued in Peshawar.
He said the North Waziristan peace deal was being replicated in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kashmir.
Sources close to Waziristan militants said Tuesday’s rocket attacks could have been carried out by dissident men-at-arms who had revolted against Mullah Mohammad Nazir, recently appointed head of militant commanders by a council in the North and South Waziristan tribal agencies.
They added that a tense calm had prevailed in Wana for the past one week as the well-armed rival groups remained locked into a bitter dispute.
APP adds: A spokesman for the Governor House in Peshawar rejected reports that the two missiles had been fired at the venue of the jirga being addressed by Gen Aurakzai.
When his attention was drawn to news being telecast by some private TV channels saying that the governor had cut short his visit to South Waziristan Agency after two missiles that landed near the jirga venue, the spokesman the spokesman said the report was baseless. He said that although two missile had landed in Wana but at a place far from the venue of the jirga and that the incident could not be described as an attack on the governor.
When asked to give details, the spokesman who was present in the jirga said that soon after the governor was invited on the dais to address the jirga, two missiles fired from unknown location landed at a place far from the venue. He denied that the missile had landed close to the place where Gen Aurakzai was sitting.
The governor completed his address and the jirga completed its proceedings, he said.
He clarified that Gen Aurakzai did not cut short his visit to North and South Waziristan Agencies.
However, due to paucity of time, the governor could not inaugurate a few development projects in Wana, he maintained. The spokesman said that Gen Aurakzai returned to Peshawar according to schedule at 2 pm on Tuesday.