June 4, 2018
Several Pashtun ethnic activists have been killed in an attack by the Taliban and a following police operation in Pakistan’s border region of South Waziristan.
Local sources in Wana, the main administrative center for South Waziristan, said two Pashtuns had been killed and 25 others injured on Sunday after the Taliban attacked their gathering and security forces opened fire on protesters during disturbances that followed.
However, a senior Pashtun figure in the region said at least 10 people had been killed and 30 others injured in the violence.
Manzoor Pashteen, the head of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), said on his Twitter page that police and security forces fired indiscriminately at protesters after the Taliban attacked a PTM gathering.
Another PTM leader said the Sunday attack by the Taliban was meant to force the group to leave Wana and other areas in South Waziristan, one of the most volatile of the tribal lands on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.
Ali Wazir, a PTM leader who was wounded in the attack, said the Taliban were “dictating an end to PTM activities in Wana.”
Other PTM members said they suspected the gunmen who attacker their gathering were Taliban members with close links to Pakistan’s military. The Pakistani military has repeatedly denied such allegations while it has launched talks with PTM members to address some of their grievances.
The PTM gained prominence after it held rallies across many towns and cities in January to protest the killing of a Pashtun youth by police in the southern city of Karachi.
The movement seeks compensation for the alleged state-organized killings of thousands of Pashtuns during the so-called US-led war on terror, which Pakistan joined in 2001, and also during a crackdown by the Pakistani military against militant positions in tribal areas between 2009 and 2014.
Pashteen urged followers and all Pashtuns to take to the streets to protest the latest outrage.
“Pashtuns wherever should protest now and those who cannot should do it tomorrow in front of the UN offices because this state doesn’t listen to our voice,” he said.
Reports said PTM supporters in Peshawar had gathered outside the Islamabad Press Club late on Sunday evening to protest the Wana carnage.