Sectarian clashes in Pakistani tribal area; 30 killed

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PARACHINAR, Pakistan, Nov 17 (Reuters) At least 30 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in sectarian clashes between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said today.

The clashes broke out yesterday after firing by unidentified men in Parachinar, the main town in the Kurram tribal region, where about 40 people were killed in an outbreak of sectarian violence in April.

''Nineteen bodies have been brought from different areas while a woman died of wounds at the hospital,'' said Dr Haneef Jan, in charge of Kurram Tribal Agency hospital in Parachinar.

''More than 100 people are also being treated mainly for bullet wounds, of which some 10-12 are critically injured.'' Besides the dead at the hospital, officials in the semi-autonomous tribal region said at least 10 bodies were handed over to their relatives in Alizai area of the town.

Witnesses said the warring factions used heavy weapons including mortars and rocket launchers.

A curfew had been imposed in troubled parts of the town.

Most of the ethnic Pashtun tribesmen in Kurram are Shi'ite, although most Pashtuns are Sunni.

Pakistan has seen sectarian violence in major cities and towns in recent years, although the majority of Sunnis and Shi'ites live in peace. Shi'ites account for about 15 percent of the country's 160 million people.

REUTERS PD RN1940

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