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Land dispute could spiral into war in Nangarhar

Land dispute could spiral into war in Nangarhar

Mar 31, 2011 - 09:45

JALALABAD (PANinfo-icon): Two tribes in eastern Nangarhar province are on the verge of warfare over a strip of desert along the border with Pakistaninfo-icon.

The Shinwari tribe of Ghanikhil district, and the Seh Pay tribe of Spin Ghar and Achain both claim ownership of the land in Ghanikhil.

The two tribes have about 2,000 fighters armed with artillery, rocket launchers and other heavy weapons. The government has dispatched 2,000 soldiers to the area to try to keep the peace.

Brig. Gen. Aminullah Amerkhil, the commander of the first zone of border police, said the Shinwari and Seh Pay tribes were dug in their trenches near the Durand Lineinfo-icon, the de facto border between Pakistan and Afghanistaninfo-icon.

The two tribes had fought three times in the past week, with two people wounded, he said.

Amerkhil said 2,000 armed forces, including 600 police, and 30 armed vehicles had been sent to the area. If the two tribes did not sit down for a jirgainfo-icon, the security forces would move in to disarm them, he said.

He feared that insurgents could exploit the unstable situation to cause trouble in the area. Border crossings between the districts and Pakistan had been closed and border police put on alert.

A delegation led by Asadullah Wafa, a presidential adviser, had come to the area to reconcile the two tribes and negotiations are still continuing.

Malik Niaz, the head of the Seh Pay tribe, said his group had papers showing they owned the land.

However, he said they had agreed to abide by the terms of an agreement which divided the land between them last year. The borders had been approved by the governor of Nangarhar.

Niaz said each tribe was handed a share of the land but when his tribe began to build houses on their side, they were attacked.

Niaz accused the Nangarhar governor of supporting the other Shiwaris.

He said he was happy to wait for Wafa to organise a jirga.

He said despite the ongoing dispute they would not let insurgents or those from over the border cause any trouble.

The Nangarhar governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, was concerned about the tribal feud had deployed hundreds of troops to try to prevent a clash, his spokesman,  Ahmad Zia Abdul Zai, said.

Mullahinfo-icon Jan Shinwari, head of the Shinwari tribe, said they were not happy with the result of last year’s jirga, but accepted the outcome nevertheless.

He said both sides gave 400,000 afghanis as a guarantee that until the construction of houses was complete, neither side would attack the other.

Jan said that there were 28 more days left of the agreement, and while the rival tribe remained in the area, they did not intend to leave.

Last year, 13 people were killed and 18 others wounded in fighting between the two tribes. 

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