15 killed in continuing sectarian clashes in Pakistan
Apr 8, 2007 - 9:54:20 PM

Islamabad, April 8 - Sporadic gunfire continued in Pakistan's northwestern Kurram district Sunday, increasing to 15 the death toll in three days of clashes, a senior local administration official said.

Fighting broke out between majority Sunni and minority Shia communities Friday in Kurram district's central town of Parachinar, 225 km from North West Frontier Province capital Peshawar.

'There haven't been any reports of fresh clashes in the town limits, but heavy weapons are being used in villages on the outskirts of Parachinar,' Sahibzada Anis, who oversees the administrative affairs of the area, told DPA.

He said so far the official figure for people killed in the past three days stood at 15, but the numbers could be higher in the wake of continuing fighting in remote areas bordering Afghanistan. Dozens of people had also been wounded in skirmishes, he added.

The army, which was called in soon after the sectarian clashes erupted, used helicopter gunships the previous day to strike positions held by the members of fighting groups.

Troops were also carrying out extensive patrols in the town where shoot-on-sight orders had been issued.

Authorities were trying to neutralise the situation by using the influence of tribal elders, however, the military would go in if peaceful efforts failed, according to the official.

Parachinar, which has a history of sectarian violence, is situated in Pakistan's Pashtun-dominated tribal region where the central government had little control over the administrative affairs that are mostly governed by local communities.

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