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Casualties Reported As Police Clash With Protesters In Northwestern Pakistan

Residents of the Janikhel area launched a sit-in protest more than three weeks ago after tribal elder Malik Naseeb Khan was killed.

A violent clash has erupted in northwestern Pakistan between police and residents protesting the authorities' failure to arrest the killers of a local tribal elder.

Police say 10 officers were injured in the June 23 violence in the Bannu district, two of them seriously.

Latif Waziri, one of the protest organizers, told RFE/RL that at least one demonstrator was killed.

Residents of the Janikhel area of Bannu district launched a sit-in protest more than three weeks ago after tribal elder Malik Naseeb Khan was shot dead.

The protesters have refused to bury him, demanding the government get rid of militants and restore security in the area.

They started marching toward the national capital, Islamabad, on June 23 to push their demands, but Waziri said they were stopped by a heavy contingent of police forces at a bridge some 25 kilometers south of the city of Bannu.

"I saw at least one person dead as a result of police opening fire but we are getting reports that two more are dead," he said.

Senior police officials in Bannu said the government was ready to resume talks with the protesters.

However, a senior military official said they would "never" be allowed to march toward Islamabad.

Previous rounds of negotiations between the protesters and officials have failed to end the standoff.

The Janikhel area is located on the periphery of the North Waziristan tribal district.

The region is rife with Taliban militants and other armed groups, years after the Pakistani military claimed victory in the war on terrorism in the country's northwest. More than a million people were displaced in the army operations.

Locals complain that armed militants are involved in targeted attacks and accuse the military of not taking large-scale action against them.

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    Radio Mashaal is a public-service broadcaster providing a powerful alternative to extremist propaganda in Pakistan's remote tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.