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Pakistani Tribal Region Under Curfew After Deadly Clashes Between Activists, Militants

People move a stretcher with an injured man, who was shot after militants attacked a rally organized by the PTM in Wana, at a hospital in Dera Ismail Khan, on June 4.

The situation remains tense in a Pakistani tribal region where at least two people died and 25 were wounded in clashes between local militants and Pashtun rights activists, officials and eyewitnesses say.

Sohail Ahmed Khan, an administration official in South Waziristan near the Afghan border, said a curfew was imposed to control the fast-deteriorating situation following the incident that broke out in the evening of June 3 in Wana, the region's main town.

Some reports said up to six people died and nearly 40 were wounded in the violence, which erupted after supporters of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), or Pashtun Protection Movement, were stopped from holding a gathering to welcome one of their leaders by a local militant group.

Manzoor Pashteen, the founder of the PTM, called for protests in response to the violence.

PTM members said they suspected the members of the militant group of having ties to a Taliban faction that has covert support from Pakistan's military.

The army, which denies fostering proxy groups, has in the past conducted offensives in South Waziristan to hunt down both Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Since the beginning of the year, the PTM has held rallies across many towns and cities across Pakistan to call for an end to what they say are human rights violations by authorities in the country's tribal regions, including extrajudicial killings.

PTM activists also accuse the military of allowing extremists a safe haven from which to launch attacks in Afghanistan, while targeting insurgents that turn their guns on Pakistan.

On May 31, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain signed legislation that merges the country's tribal regions along the Afghan border with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, therefore granting some 5 million people in the regions the same rights as other Pakistanis.

The legislation rids the northwestern tribal areas of what were seen as discriminatory laws under which those regions have been governed since the colonial rule of Britain, which ended in 1947.