At least 16 killed as Pakistan tribes clash over coal mine

Officials say the incident is part of decades-old tribal rivalry over the mine in Darra Adam Khel area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

sunny khel protest
Members of the Sunny Khel tribe protesting after the killings in Kohat district of Pakistan [Courtesy of Asad Noushad]

Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 16 people have been killed and more than 10 injured in a clash between two tribes over the ownership of a coal mine in northwest Pakistan.

Officials said the incident late on Monday was part of a decades-old tribal rivalry over the mine in Darra Adam Khel area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan.

Local police officer Zahid Khan confirmed 16 deaths in the clash between the area’s Sunny Khel and Akhorwal tribes.

“At least 11 members of the Sunny Khel tribe were killed whereas five members of Akhorwal tribe were buried last night,” he told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

kohat killing
People with the bodies of those killed in the clash [Courtesy of Asad Noushad]

“The tribes involved have agreed on a ceasefire and a jirga [tribal council meeting] was held to resolve the matter,” Khan added.

Jirga refers to a group of elders belonging to various tribes which is empowered to resolve intra-tribal rivalries and conflicts. It is often used in Pakistan’s northwestern areas which are dominated by the ethnic Pashtun population.

“This is not the first violent incident between the two and there have been numerous jirgas in the past to settle the issue, but it keeps cropping up. Many people have died, as a result, in these clashes,” Khan said.

The police officer said the members of the Sunny Khel tribe protested on a highway in the area, demanding the arrest of the culprits.

“Local administration and law enforcement officials are mediating between the tribes and we are hopeful that a resolution will be reached soon,” he said.

Darra Adam Khel is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kohat district, home to a large coal reserve. The area was part of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a semi-autonomous region that was merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018.

Source: Al Jazeera