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South Waziristan Bazaar Under Lockdown After Attack On Security Forces

A protest for Internet services makes its way through the main bazaar in Wana, South Waziristan, on February 11.

Pakistani security forces have locked down two areas of the northwestern South Waziristan tribal district as they conduct search operations for militants following two recent deadly attacks claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

The Wana Bazaar, the largest market in the district with up to 5,000 shops, has remained under curfew for four consecutive days since a nearby landmine blast on a security convoy killed three soldiers and wounded six others on February 14. Locals say a civilian was also killed when security forces opened fire following the explosion.

District police chief Shaukat Ali told RFE/RL on February 17 that the curfew is intended to stop the movement of people in the area where a search operation for what he called “miscreants” is under way.

Local residents said security forces were searching the bazaar while villagers around Wana have been restricted to their houses.

A Wana resident, Anwar Khpalwak, said the security forces had initially said the market would remain closed until February 16 but that the curfew was later extended for an unspecified period.

Khpalwak complained that such curfews and restrictions to people's movement are illegal.

Meanwhile, residents of South Waziristan’s Razin area said several villages there had been under curfew for the past eight days since militants stormed a security check post on February 11, killing four soldiers and wounding three others.

One resident, Sherpao Pakhtoon, said a lockdown in the village of Razin had been lifted but not in the nearby villages of Panga, Dwa Dara, and Palgai, where people have been restricted to their houses.

Security officials said a search operation is also under way in the area.

The Pakistan Taliban, also known as Tehrik-e Taliban (TTP), claimed responsibility for both attacks in South Waziristan, a mountainous region that was once the headquarters of the militant group.

Pakistani forces conducted several operations to dislodge the militants from the area, but locals complain the TTP and other groups have increased their presence in the region over the past year.