Tribal elders have claimed that at least 64 people – including women and children – have died of hunger, natural calamities and accidents while 12,000 families have been uprooted from their homes in Kurram Agency following a military operation against militants.
Speaking at a news conference at Parachinar Press Club, elders of Para Chamkani and Masuzai tribes Hayat Khan Chamkani, Hafizullah, Haji Saddin and Yousaf Khan Chamkani claimed that around 12,000 families were displaced by the military operation in the past one week.
On May 7, militants took control of several security check-posts in the Masuzai and Para Chamkani mountainous areas of Central Kurram, Haji Sadeen Khan said. On May 9, a heavy gunfight erupted between security forces and militants in the area, forcing the families to flee for safety. He added that militants from Orakzai and Khyber agencies captured the surrounding areas and infiltrated villages.
As a result, Haji Sadeen said, most of the tribal people moved to lower parts of the agency, including Khar, Khazi Khel and Palash Khel, and have been living without food and health facilities. Apart from the 64 people who have died, a large number of cattle have also perished due to hunger and accidents, while hundreds of children are suffering from various diseases.
Tribal elder Hafizullah demanded the government register the displaced families as internally displaced persons and provide them with food and health facilities. “If the government does not want to register them as IDPs, at least it can help them in providing tents and food,” he added.
Speaking on the elections, Hafizullah, who was also Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s candidate for NA-38 and NA-39, said that the general elections were suspended in NA-38 because tribesmen insisted on contesting them and would not participate in them unless they were repatriated to their homes.
He added that Gondal, Tabay, Malo Pattai, Darya Sarpakh, Goganay, Aroza, Makhranai Godar and other villages were also under the control of militants.
School, dispensary set alight
Also on Tuesday, militants torched a local dispensary and state-run school in Para Chamkani area, reducing the buildings to ashes.
Separately, two people were injured when a mortar shell fired from an undisclosed location struck the houses of tribesmen in the Camel Baza area of Central Kurram.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2013.