Warring Sunni, Shiite Muslims agree to truce in tribal region

Arab World Materials 27 September 2008 13:26 (UTC +04:00)

Warring Sunni and Shiite Muslims in a remote Pakistani tribal region on Saturday announced an interim ceasefire after months of clashes killed more than 500 people and wounded hundreds more, reported dpa.

Tribal elders from the rival Bangash and Toori brokered the truce in a meeting arranged by the top administrator of Kurram tribal district, Muhammad Azam Khan, in Islamabad.

The chieftains agreed to a truce until December 31 to defuse the situation in the violence-plagued mountain area near the Afghan border. Both sides will also exchange prisoners.

Khan said the tribesmen would again meet on October 6 to bring lasting piece to Kurram, which was in the grip of fierce fighting since April 2007.

Government security forces also made infrequent attempts to quell the violence, using helicopter gunships to pound positions held by militants who joined the Sunni Bangash tribesmen after crossing into Kurram from adjoining regions.

The tribal elders on Saturday said "the common enemy across the border having sinister designs" was inciting sectarian violence in Kurram, and vowed to put an end to it.

Shiite-dominated areas in Kurram, particularly its main town of Parachinar, have been cut off from the rest of the country through land routes over the last year, causing severe shortages of food and medicine.

Khan vowed to reopen a key link between the towns of Parachinar and Thal at the earliest to transport food and medical stores. Earlier, Sunni fighters were accused of killing truckers delivering the supplies to Shiites.