Following reports of violence during a protest in North Waziristan on Sunday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) released a statement in the afternoon saying that a check post in the area was assaulted by a group and in an exchange of fire, three people were killed while 15 were injured ─ including five soldiers.
According to the statement by the Army’s media wing, MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir ─ both of whom are leaders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) ─ were leading the group.
“A group led by Mohsin Javed [Dawar] and Ali Wazir assaulted Kharqamar check post, Boyya, North Waziristan tribal district this morning. They wanted to exert pressure for release of suspected terrorists’ facilitator arrested the other day,” added the statement, without specifying who the suspect was.
“Troops at the check post exercised maximum restraint in the face of provocation and direct firing on the post. Due to firing of the group, five Army soldiers got injured. In exchange of fire, three individuals who attacked the post lost their lives and 10 got injured,” it said.
All injured have been shifted to Army Hospital for treatment, said the ISPR statement, adding that Ali Wazir along with 8 individuals have been arrested while Mohsin Javed [Dawar] is at large.
The PTM leadership has yet to issue a statement regarding the incident.
Earlier in the morning, reports of violence during a sit-in had started making rounds. A source had told Dawn.com that at least 20 people were injured after violence erupted during a sit-in being held in North Waziristan’s Doga Macha Madakhel area.
The sit-in staged by residents of the area against the alleged assault on a local woman began on Saturday and was joined by workers of the PTM today. A source within the PTM said the protest was calm until MNAs Dawar and Wazir reached the area to participate in the sit-in.
Upon their arrival, protesters began sloganeering and the situation turned tense. Unidentified individuals opened fire on the crowd of protesters, the source told Dawn.com, after which Wazir was taken into custody and Dawar received a minor hand injury.
As local news outlets reported that a clash had taken place between law enforcement agencies and the PTM protesters, unverified visuals of the protest and ensuing violence started circulating on social media.
A curfew was imposed in North Waziristan following the incident, and landline, internet and cellphone services have all been suspended, PTM and local sources told Dawn.com.
PTM is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter, has insisted on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and for their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.
Prime Minister Imran had addressed a public gathering in Orakzai earlier this year in which he endorsed the grievances of Pashtuns, but said that agitation would not yield any benefits.