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Pakistan Arrests Second Pashtun Lawmaker Over 'Attack' On Troops

The military accuses PTM leaders Ali Wazir (left) and Mohsin Dawar of being involved in an attack on a checkpoint in the volatile region.

A second Pakistani lawmaker accused of being behind an alleged attack on a military post has been arrested, a provincial spokesman said.

Shaukat Yousafzai, a spokesman in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, said parliament member Mohsin Dawar was captured in a raid in North Waziristan on May 30. However, local sources said Dawar turned himself in voluntarily.

The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), which was co-founded by Dawar and campaigns for civil rights for ethnic Pashtuns, said troops killed 13 civilians when they opened fire on May 26 on unarmed people who were gathering to protest heavy-handed tactics by the security forces.

The military accuses Dawar and another member of parliament, Ali Wazir, of being involved in an attack on a checkpoint in the volatile region. Wazir was arrested but Dawar fled at the time.

The army said three activists were killed in the violence.

The army had reportedly barred Pakistani television channels from covering the rallies, but phone videos were posted on social media apparently showing unarmed protesters breaching a barbed-wire barricade placed on a road, before gunfire scatters them.

The violence was the most serious incident in a long-running confrontation between the authorities and the PTM, which has vowed to remain nonviolent.

Human Rights Watch in a statement on May 30 called on Pakistan to "impartially investigate" the deaths of the protesters on May 26.

"Upholding the rule of law is critical for maintaining security and protecting human rights in North Waziristan," said Brad Adams, Asia director of the New York-based rights body.

Pakistan's government should "uphold rights of region's Pashtun population," the statement adds.

On May 29, an international media-freedom watchdog urged Pakistani authorities to immediately release a reporter who was detained while covering the North Waziristan protest.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in a May 28 statement that Gohar Wazir, a reporter working for the private TV station Khyber News, was detained in the town of Bannu after reporting on the PTM protests.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP