Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Afghanistan closes key Shia route

Afghanistan closes key Shia route

Wed, 16 Sep 2009 07:11:23 GMT

Afghan authorities closed the key route that leads from Kurram agency to Afghan Paktia province due to unknown reasons.
Afghanistan has closed a key route for Pakistani Shia populated Kurram tribal region, raising concerns of a 'dire humanitarian crisis' in the Taliban-dominated mountainous valley.

The residents of the Parachinar, upper and lower Kurram agency used to travel for provincial capital Peshawar through Afghan province Paktia and Kandahar since November 2007, when pro-Taliban, Wahhabi militants cut off the areas from the rest of the country, imposing a crippling blockade on the Shia communities in the region.

On Tuesday, Afghan authorities closed the key route that leads from Kurram agency to Afghan Paktia province due to unknown reasons, an intelligence official told Press TV correspondent on condition of anonymity.

Hundreds of the residents of Kurram agency, who were traveling for the provincial capital Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan by using the 'out of way' route, were stooped by Afghan authorities on the border.

"This blockade could result into dire humanitarian crisis because the residents of Kurram agency were relaying on these key routes although they have to pay 100 times higher fares to transporters and also have to cover the distance which should have taken half an hour to reach Peshawar in14 to 18 hours", the official said.

The blockade of the roads forced the embattled Pakistani government to start an air service to transport the locals; however, the helicopter service launched in late July did not yield the desired results.

Dera Ismail Khan and Kurram agency have been witnessing countless incidents of massacres as the pro-Taliban militants have imposed a war against the Shia population that has left thousands of people dead in the past few years.

Some local sources say more than 2,000 Shia community members have been killed in the region since 2007.

A number of Shias maintain that certain rich Arab countries have bankrolled and armed Wahhabi terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the pro-Taliban elements, even going as far as providing them with heavy weaponry.




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