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Tribal Truce In Eastern Afghanistan Falls Apart

Tense in Nangarhar (file photo)

Tense in Nangarhar (file photo)

The three-year truce that the Afghan government forced on a violent land dispute in eastern Afghanistan and we described last week as "shaky" from the outset lasted just one day. While the exact casualty figures are difficult to determine, members of a Pashtun clan are said to have been killed and others injured while scores more were detained when they clashed with government troops on October 28.

The fighting came one day after young tribal fighters had vacated their respective trenches early on October 27 in the Ghani Khel region of eastern Nangarhar province. Locals had rejoiced at the development because they saw it halting a violent tribal land dispute over a government-owned plain that had claimed the lives of 100 members of the Alisher Khel and Sepah branches of the Pashtun Shinwari tribe. The impetus for the truce was a threat of military action by Nangarhar Province Governor Gul Agha Sherzai on October 25. He was apparently annoyed with holding endless jirgas, or tribal councils, with the two sides.

Independent Afghan news agency Pajhwok reported that the Sepah tribesmen returned to Ghani Khel on October 28 where the disputed plain lies south of Nangarhar's capital, Jalalabad. Aminullah Amarkhel accused them of attacking a military base where Sherzai was holding council with the military and police officials. The agency reported that two policemen were injured in the attack but government retaliation killed seven attackers. Government forces also reportedly captured 65 attackers.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan on October 29, Malik Usman Shinwari, a Sepah leader, claimed that government forces had killed 60 of their fighters and injured 80 others.

-- Abubakar Siddique