–Army claims PTM backed MNAs Mohsin Dawar, Ali Wazir provoked attack on army checkpost during protest against alleged assault on local woman
—PTM supporters claim 5 members killed, 45 injured in firing incident
–PTM leader Ali Wazir arrested, Mohsin Dawar on the run
MIRANSHAH: At least three people were killed while dozens, including five soldiers, were injured when a reported clash broke out between army personnel and activists of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) during a sit-in in North Waziristan on Sunday.
According to a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), a checkpost in the area was allegedly attacked by a group of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) members, and the casualties and injuries were a result of the “exchange of fire between them and the military”.
The statement added that Members of National Assembly (MNA) Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir ─ both of whom are leaders of the PTM ─ were leading the protestors.
“A group led by Mohsin Javed [Dawar] and Ali Wazir assaulted Kharqamar checkpost, Boyya, North Waziristan tribal district this morning. They wanted to exert pressure for the release of suspected terrorists’ facilitator arrested the other day,” it read without disclosing the suspect’s identity.
“Troops at the checkpost exercised maximum restraint in the face of provocation and direct firing on the post. Due to the firing of the group, five army soldiers got injured. In exchange of fire, three individuals who attacked the post lost their lives and 10 got injured,” it added.
The statement also informed that while all the injured have been shifted to an army hospital, lawmaker Ali Wazir and eight of his aides, including Dr Gul Alam Wazir, have been arrested. While MNA Mohsin Dawar remains at large, says the army.
According to a local media outlet, the sit-in had begun against the alleged assault on a local woman on Saturday by the residents of Doga Macha Madakhel area in North Waziristan. Workers of the PTM had joined the protest earlier in the morning.
After their arrival, protesters began raising slogans, soon afterwards “unidentified individuals” opened fire on the people.
Meanwhile, PTM leadership claims that at least 45 activists were injured and five were killed after the “peaceful protestors” came under fire by the soldiers manning the checkpoint.
According to reports, landline, internet and cellphone services have been suspended as a curfew was imposed in North Waziristan following the incident.
Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari raised doubts on the ISPR version of the incident, saying it was beyond understanding why an elected lawmaker would lead an attack.
Addressing a press conference in Larkana, he condemned the violence that led to the loss of lives.
“How can Mohsin Dawar attack a check post? He is an elected representative! It would not make sense for an elected representative to initiate such an attack. While I condemn the attack, I must also add that peaceful protesting is every citizen’s right,” he said.
Later in the day, ISPR DG Major General Asif Ghafoor took to Twitter to express his views on the incident.
NWTD incident. Innocent PTM supporters / workers need care. Only few are inciting and using them against state institutions for vested agenda. No one will be allowed to undo the gains of decades long national struggle & sacrifices especially of brave Pakistani tribals.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) May 26, 2019
“NWTD incident. Innocent PTM supporters / workers need care. Only few are inciting and using them against state institutions for vested agenda. No one will be allowed to undo the gains of decades long national struggle & sacrifices especially of brave Pakistani tribals,” he tweeted.