8 killed in sectarian violence in rural Pakistan

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

In rural Pakistan, eight individuals, including five teachers, died as tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims escalated into a fatal confrontation. The violent incident took place in the isolated border town of Teri Mangal in Kurram district, which is situated less than a kilometre from the border with Afghanistan.

Two armed men entered a school while teachers collected exam papers that students had finished earlier. The police chief for the district, Muhammad Imran, stated, “They identified Shiite people and separated them before opening fire.” It was reported that five teachers and two labourers were killed during the attack. Their bodies were later transported to a hospital and buried on the same day.

The attack transpired just hours after a local Sunni community member passed away in the hospital, succumbing to injuries sustained in a prior assault. According to Amir Nawaz, a high-ranking government official, sectarian tensions have been prevalent for a long time and have essentially divided the district into two separate regions.

Shiite Muslims represent approximately 20% of Pakistan’s population of over 220 million. In the Kurram district, they are the majority. The district was once part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas but was incorporated into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in 2018, integrating it into the legal and administrative framework.

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Nawaz explained that as the teachers organised the exam papers, the armed individuals entered the school. He confirmed that both incidents were connected to sectarian violence, resulting in eight deaths.

Officials are currently negotiating with community leaders to restore peace. A jirga, a tribal council of elders responsible for settling disputes, is already in progress.

There has been a noticeable rise in tension over the past month, resulting in four deaths from unrelated shootings, according to an intelligence officer who requested anonymity.

On the same day, six soldiers were killed in a clash with suspected Pakistan Taliban militants in North Waziristan. Since the Afghan Taliban retook Kabul in 2021, Pakistan has experienced increased attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Although the TTP is a separate entity from the Afghan Taliban, they share a common history and ideology, reports Bangkok Post.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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