PARACHINAR, Pakistan: Five teachers and staff were shot dead Thursday at a school in northwest Pakistan, in a war crimes-related attack. Sectarian tensions between Sunnis and ShiitesPolice and government officials said.
Two shooters entered the school in the remote border town of Tere Mangal, less than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the Afghan border in Coram District, where the teachers collected the examination papers that were completed earlier in the day.
“When the two attackers entered (the school), they recognized the Shiites and separated them before opening fire,” Muhammad Imran, the district’s police chief, told AFP.
Amir Nawaz, a senior local government official, said the shooting took place after news spread that a man from the Sunni community had died in hospital from injuries sustained in an attack on his car earlier in the day.
“The first incident occurred at 11:30 am (0630 GMT) and the second attack occurred at 2:30 pm. These attacks are linked to sectarian violence,” Nawaz said, confirming the death toll in both attacks.
“The teachers were sorting and collecting papers when the gunmen entered the school,” he added.
Zulfiqar Khan, the local health official, said a state of emergency has been declared in local hospitals.
The bodies of the teachers were taken from the hospital in coffins and loaded into ambulances to be taken to burial sites, according to what an AFP journalist saw.
Police said authorities were in talks with the two religious communities to restore peace in the Shia-majority Kurram district, which has a long history of sectarian violence.
A jirga – a tribal council of community elders responsible for settling disputes – was in session.
Akhtar Ali Shah, the province’s former police chief, told AFP that religious tensions in the region stretch back decades and have practically divided Kurram in two.
He said, “There is (a) Shia population on one side and Sunnis on the other. Even a minor incident can lead to clashes, so one must always be careful.”
Tensions have escalated over the past month, with four people killed in separate shootings, according to an intelligence official who asked not to be named.
Shia Muslims make up nearly 20 percent of Pakistan’s population of more than 220 million.
Kurram is part of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a semi-autonomous region in northwest Pakistan that was merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in 2018, bringing it into the legal and administrative mainstream.


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