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Pro-government militant faction targets Pashtun gathering in Pakistan, three killed

At least three supporters of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, a body spearheading a movement to protect the rights of Pashtuns, were killed and 20 injured when armed members of a pro-government militant faction targeted a gathering in the South Waziristan tribal region of northwest Pakistan.

world Updated: Jun 04, 2018 23:46 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pashtun,Pakistan,Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement
People carry injured Pashtuns to hospital.(Reuters)

At least three supporters of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), a body spearheading a movement to protect the rights of Pashtuns, were killed and 20 others injured when armed members of a pro-government militant faction targeted a gathering in the South Waziristan tribal region of northwest Pakistan.

The attackers belonging to a so-called “aman (peace) committee” mounted the attack at Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan, on Sunday. PTM supporters accused the Pakistani military of orchestrating the attack with the help of “good” Taliban whom they accuse the army of harbouring.

Arif Wazir, a cousin of PTM leader Ali Wazir, and Noor Ali Wazir, a journalist, were reported to be among the injured. Ali Wazir was present on the occasion and was reported to be safe after the attack. Those with critical injuries were taken to Dera Ismail Khan, an adjacent district, for treatment.

Leading human rights activist and Awami National Party leader Afrasiab Khattak said, “The plausible deniability over official patronage to the Taliban is blown away by the bloodshed in Wana. The proxy is used on both sides of the Durand Line against Pashtuns and Afghans."

Another political analyst, Imran Khan, tweeted about how the "good Taliban" were being harboured inside cantonment areas.

A senior journalist from North Waziristan told the Daily Times that his sources had confirmed the attack was orchestrated by the Mullah Nazir militant faction.

On Saturday, “aman committee” members had threatened Ali Wazir that his house in the area would be torched if he did not disassociate himself from the PTM.

The armed assailants arrived in pick-up trucks at the main bazaar of Wana, where the gathering was being held. They started an argument with PTM supporters. Some of them torched a nearby stall selling caps similar to those worn by PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen.

“This infuriated PTM workers and escalated the clash,” said a tribesman who was present at the site.

Insisting that the “aman committee” members were Taliban fighters in disguise, he said the assailants opened fire at the gathering using heavy weapons. PTM workers pelted stones on them, leaving two men in the convoy injured, he said.

Soon after the clash, security forces arrived to quell the situation, and latest reports suggested that a curfew was enforced in Wana.

Later, PTM leader Pashteen addressed his supporters on social media and claimed that 10 workers of the movement had died in the clash. Multiple protests were reported from across the country to condemn the attack but mainstream media did not report on them.

Local media reported that separately, a sit-in at Mir Ali, a small town in North Waziristan, was underway for the second consecutive day on Sunday to condemn the targeted killing of Hamidullah Wazir, a political moharir of the local administration, by unidentified gunmen.

The gunmen had on Friday night ambushed his vehicle and indiscriminately fired at it, killing Hamidullah Wazir and injuring three guards.

First Published: Jun 04, 2018 20:18 IST