Violence in hill kills seven in Khagrachhari
KHAGRACHHARI – Seven people were killed and seven wounded as violence assumed to be caused by a factional fights among rival tribal groups erupted in Khagrachhari hill district here.
Officials and witnesses said gunmen first shot six people dead attacking on crowds at a village market at Swanirbhar area of the Sadar upazila at about 7.30 am as United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) was preparing to stage a scheduled rally there.
They said five of the dead were UPDF leaders and activists while the remaining attack victim was a government health employee.
Three people were wounded in the attack while doctors in Khagrachhari referred them to Chittagong Medical College Hospital as their injuries appeared serious.
The second gun attack was carried out allegedly by the same group at around 12 noon at Khagrachhari town where another UPDF activist was killed and four passersby wounded.
“It appears the attack took place as a sequel of factional infight over establishing dominance in the region,” Khagrachhari Sadar police station’s officer in charge Shahadat Hossain told BSS after the first attack took place.
He however, said police actions were launched to track down the assailants to be exposed to justice while extra police force was deployed at the scene to prevent any further violence.
UPDF’s district coordinator Michael Chakma accused a breakaway faction of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity, dubbed as PCJSS-reform, for the attack, which the outfit rejected outright.
But UPDF later alleged that the PCJSS-reform activists staged the second attack as well while they rallied at the Perachhara area of the town to stage a protest march.
Police and residents at the neighbourhood said all the seven slain people belonged to major Chakma community while six of them were UPDF leaders and activists including Tapan Chakma, the UPDF-backed student group Pahari Chhatra Parishad’s (PCP) acting district unit president.
Officials familiar with the CHT scenario said the rugged region now witness four rival groups with emergence of two renegade or breakaway factions of PCJSS and UPDF, a group that emerged to oppose the landmark 1997 CHT Peace Agreement.
They said despite the previous extreme enmity, the main groups of PCJSS, also called JSS, and UPDF visibly buried largely their old hostility while their breakaway factions appeared closer to each other.