Kurram Agency Sectarian Clashes
Death toll nears 200 in Pakistan sectarian clashes: officials
AFP, August 17, 2008
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — Almost 200 people have died in nearly two weeks of fierce sectarian clashes between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in a remote Pakistani tribal region, officials said Sunday.
The toll rose after 23 people were killed in fresh fighting overnight in the Kurram tribal region bordering Afghanistan, which has historically experienced tensions between the two sides, they said.
Local newspapers said that Taliban militants from the neighbouring North Waziristan tribal zone had entered Kurram to back the Sunni tribes involved in the fighting, now in its 12th day.
Residents said Sunni tribesmen torched three villages belonging to Shiite tribes and both sides used rockets, heavy machine guns and mortars in the fierce clashes.
"In today's and yesterday's clashes at least 23 people have been killed on both sides and 28 others were injured," a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
According to reports gathered through local intelligence officials and hospitals, the overall death toll from the days of fighting has risen to 194, with 286 others injured, the official said.
The government earlier this week warned the tribes to end the fighting or face military action.
Local administration officials said that elders from both tribes have been approached to restore peace in the area and local residents are also supporting the initiative.
The lawless tribal district was rocked by bloody sectarian clashes in April in which some 50 people were killed.
Shiites account for about 20 percent of Pakistan's Sunni-dominated population, but are in the majority in Parachinar, the main town in Kurram.
Sectarian violence involving militants from Sunni and Shiite sects has claimed more than 4,000 lives in Pakistan since the late 1980s.
Also See:Shia leader gunned down in Peshawar - Daily Times
Militants enter Kurram from North Waziristan; 36 dead - Dawn
Six tribes of Kurram announce support to Govt to flush out militants - Associated Press of Pakistan