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20 die in Kurram clashes : Jirga holds talks

December 31, 2007

PARACHINAR, Dec 30: A sixteen-member jirga is holding talks with representatives of the warring factions in Kurram Agency in an effort to broker a ceasefire in the area.

Sources said the jirga comprising elders of rival sects from Hangu district and Orakzai Agency arrived here on Saturday and held talks with representatives of the Turi tribe on Sunday.

The jirga will proceed to Sadda on Monday for talks with tribesmen in Lower Kurram.

Ali Akbar, a representative of the Turi tribe, told Dawn that they had given their viewpoint and suggestions to the jirga. “But without an immediate ceasefire such talks may not produce the desired results,” he warned.

Earlier, a jirga formed by the government failed to persuade the rival groups to agree to a truce.

Sources said that fierce clashes continued in lower parts of the tribal area and about 600 militants were seen heading from North and South Waziristan agencies were seen advancing towards Kurram.

The sources said that 20 people, including 16 militants, were killed and nine others suffered injuries in a gunbattle near Lower Kurram’s Mingak area on Saturday night.

The clashes have left over 200 people dead. The situation continues to deteriorate and local people are facing a severe shortage of food items and medicines.