Clash over forests leaves 9 people dead in Dir

By: Dawood Jan

DIR: Nine people were killed and five others injured in armed clash between two groups over a forest dispute in Chiragali area of Upper Dir on Thursday, said police and residents.

The clash took place after funeral where the two groups opened fire on each others. Relatives and co-villagers of the deceased alleged that the man whose funeral was offered died of cardiac arrest out of fear after being booked by the forest department for felling a tree allegedly on the complaint of the members of the other group. 

District Police Officer Mian Naseeb Jan said 10 people were killed in the clash but residents said nine were killed. The slain were identified as Ihsan, Sultanat Khan, Said Ghafoor, Rooz Amin, Muhammad Raziq, Abdur Raheem, Farman, Isa Khan and nine years old Jawad. 

Police and residents said the armed clash started after verbal heated arguments between the groups. The group that allegedly opened indiscriminate firing on the rival group belinged to the same Chiragali village but had migrated to a nearby village Katan with a claim on the ownership of the forest. They came armed for the funeral and allegedly killed eight residents of Chiragali in the clash. One person was killed from the group. Five persons were also injured in the firing who have been shifted to the district headquarters hospital in Dir but two of them serious were moved to Peshawar. 

Police contingents were sent to the area after the clash and DPO Jan said all those involved in the killings would soon be arrested.

Armed clashes over the ownership of forests in Upper Dir, rich in forests, are not unusual but this was the bloodiest this year.