UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Three Pakistani militants were killed Sunday in clashes between Pakistani soldiers and protesters led by two deputies in a volatile tribal area near the border with Afghanistan, the military said.
The demonstration was organized by the “Pashtun Protection Movement” which has embarrassed the army since its emergence on the political scene earlier this year by calling for an end to what it considers violations by the security forces against members of this ethnic group in the troubled tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.
The demonstration was led by MPs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, and clashes broke out at a checkpoint in Buya in the North Waziristan tribal region.
The Pakistani army said in a statement that “an exchange of fire killed three people, who had attacked a center, and wounded ten,” adding that at least five soldiers were wounded.
“Ali Wazir and eight others were arrested while Mohsen Jawid (Dawar) was hiding after he incited the crowd,” the statement said.
The reasons for the confrontation remain unclear. For its part, the army says militants attacked a checkpoint, while Dawar, leader of the Pashtun Protection Movement, said the security forces fired directly at the group after crossing the checkpoint.
“They shot us directly,” Dawar said in an interview with Voice of America.
The incident comes after months of tension between the two sides during which the army warned the movement’s leaders to put an end to the criticisms directed by the group to the armed forces.
Since its launch in 2018, the group has condemned abuses it says are being committed against the Pashtuns across the country, including enforced disappearances and assassinations.
Since its inception, the movement has maintained its peaceful character, but has not hesitated to criticize the armed forces in a country where such criticism is a red line.
The Pashtuns are an ethnic group that insists on its independence spread on both sides of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The country’s population is about 30 million, making up about 15 percent of the country’s population, most of whom live in northwestern Pakistan and a large community in the southern city of Karachi.
The incident occurred Sunday in North Waziristan, a stronghold of the movement.
The region has seen a rebellion and violence in the past. Washington accuses Pakistan of providing safe haven to insurgent movements in North Waziristan, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.
The Pakistani army has carried out several operations in the region, which has seen in recent years a marked improvement in the security situation has withdrawn on all regions of the country.
But the Pashtun Protection Movement says the operations were carried out by extrajudicial executions and “hiding” operations for thousands of people.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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