RAJANPUR: At least seven people were killed and more than 15 injured in clashes between two groups of Bugti tribesmen in the Punjab-Balochistan border area some 80 km from Rajanpur.
The deceased were reportedly loyalists of Barahamdagh Bugti. The clashes erupted between supporters of Barahamdagh and Attu Bugti groups in a bid to take control of of Suri and Patokh passes connecting Balochistan and Punjab.
The residents of surrounding areas were taken aback by the intensity of the gun-battle that continued for more than 18 hours.
A large number of cattle were killed in the crossfire. These had belonged to the nomad population in the Suri and Patokh areas.
Several nomad families have migrated from these areas. They have left for the Punjab. “There is intense firing going on in the hills.
We aren’t safe there,” a man steering his cattle on the path leading to the Punjab told The Express Tribune. He said he was headed towards Rojhan, eight kilometre from Suri pass. “I will set up a camp where ever there is a green pasture for my cattle to graze,” he said. He was accompanied by his wife and four children. Several other families migrating towards the Punjab said they would settle in Muhammadpur Gumwala. “We have some relatives there.
It’s better to stay over with them than to risk my family’s lives in Patokh,” another migrant said. He said clashes were becoming more frequent with time.
The clashes are reportedly fuelled by Attu Bugti’s attempt to force the loyalists of Barahamdagh Bugti out of Balochistan.
An official speaking on condition of anonymity said the tribesmen had set up camps in the hills surrounding Punjab-Balochistan border. He said they had a huge quantity of arms including rockets and Kalashnikov rifles in these camps.
“They want to gain control of this strategic location so that they can attack and rob convoys moving between Punjab and Balochistan through Suri and Patokh passes.
Attu Bugti group is believed to have support of Mir Ali Bugti, a grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti.
The official said the clashes could also be linked to the battle among Bugtis for the title of Nawab of Dera Bugti.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2011.
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