Sectarian violence in Pakistan leaves 13 dead (Lead)

August 16th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 16 (DPA) At least 13 people were killed and 15 injured Saturday in fresh sectarian clashes between rival Shia and Sunni Muslim tribesmen in northwest Pakistan, media reports said. Scores of fighters targeted each other with heavy weapons as the running battles between the sides continued for the 11th consecutive day in the Khurram tribal district, which borders Afghanistan, the Geo TV reported.

The warring tribesmen have blocked all the main roads that link the district with the rest of the country. The nearly half a million people who live in Parachinar, the district’s headquarters, and the surrounding areas are literally under siege, the report said.

An official told DPA Friday that the area was facing a serious humanitarian crisis.

“People are running out of food and hospitals out of medicines because of the fighting, which seems to be spreading to more villages,” he said.

The top official at the Interior Ministry, Rehman Malik, has given the warring tribesmen 72 hours, which ends Monday, to halt the clashes or face government action.

Shias account for 20 percent of Pakistan’s Sunni-dominated population of 160 million but are in the majority in Parachinar, which has a long history of religious strife.

The clashes in the district over the past 11 days have killed more than 160 people and injured more than 200.

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