Seven die as forces fire at protesters in Swat

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By Musa Khankhel & Delawar Jan

MINGORA/PESHAWAR: Seven persons were killed and over two dozen injured when the security forces opened fire on thousands of people protesting against civilian casualties in the ongoing military operation and suspension of power and gas to Mingora.

The violent protests started on Monday when three civilians, including two children, allegedly died in shelling at Allahabad. The protests further intensified on Tuesday when thousands of people from Khwazakhela and Mingora, the district headquarters of Swat, took to streets despite the curfew imposed on Monday for an indefinite period.

Keeping up the protest, thousands of people from Allahabad, Charbagh, Manglawar, Golibagh and other areas tried to march towards Mingora. However, the security forces at Fizzagat checkpost fired at the protesters to stop them from proceeding to the city. As a result, 10 people were reportedly injured in the incident, one of whom later succumbed to his wounds.

In Mingora, people continued protests throughout the day, demanding a halt to what they called killing of innocent citizens in the ongoing military operation and withdrawal of the Army from the valley.

The city was presenting the scene of a battlefield as banks were looted and tyres were burnt at several places. The infuriated people, who had no power and gas as power installations have been blown up by the militants, violated the curfew and protested in various parts of the city.

The protesters staged demonstrations at Nishat, Green, Haji Baba and People Squares and torched three banks, the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), the United Bank of Limited (UBL) and the Khushhali Bank, while windowpanes of the Faisal Bank were smashed when protesters pelted stones at the building.

A press release of the Swat Media Centre (SMC) said the protesters also looted banks and fired at the cops. Police used teargas and fired at the protesters in Nishat Square to disperse them in which five persons were killed and several others were injured.

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