Tuesday 21 February 2012

Suicide bomber blows up a peace agreement

Aftermath of the Parachinar bombing
What is now left of the peace deal signed last October between Sunni and Shia tribesmen in the strategically important Kurram Agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas? On 17 February a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in the Kurmi Bazaar in Kurram's main town Parachinar, near the Imambargah, killing more than 40 Shia worshippers.
The bombing was claimed by Fazal Saeed Haqqani, who runs the Tehreek-e-Taliban Islami, a sectarian breakaway faction of the TTP. Haqqani was quoted as saying: “We have targeted the Shia community of Parachinar because they were involved in activities against us,” adding, “We had warned the political administration previously not to side with Tooris (the local Shia tribe)... We caught a man yesterday who was planting a bomb at a petrol station owned by a Sunni. We did it in response.”
Part of the reason the peace agreement was signed - and backed by the Pakistan military - was that this part of Kurram is one of the main entry points for militants trying to get into Afghanistan from Pakistan. The ongoing sectarian conflict between the local Toori tribesmen, who are Shias, and Sunni tribesmen from surrounding tribes, made it difficult for fighters from the Haqqani Network to use this route into Afghanistan.
A truce was initially agreed last February and then a peace agreement was signed on 9 October last year by 25 elders from each side at a tribal jirga held in Parachinar under the auspices of political agent Shahuddin Shahab. With the recent bombing, events are back to square one.

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