Quqnoos, June 17, 2008
Ethnic dispute in Behsud breaks out in violence
Hazaras and Kuchis accuses each other of killing their kin in central province
Clashes between Kuchi nomads and ethnic Hazaras in Maydan Wardak have killed 13 people and wounded a further 30, according to a local Member of Parliament.
A house of Hazara ethnic which has been burnt by Kuchis.
Both sides have blamed each other for the fighting, which started on Sunday in the province’s Behsud district.
Kuchi MP Hidar Jan Naimzoi said Hazaras launched attacks on 130 Kuchi homes with light and heavy weapons, forcing residents to flee their houses after four of their kin were killed.
But Maydan Wadak’s MP, Ismaile Sadfari, said the Kuchis started the clashes, killed 13 Hazaras and wounded 30 more.
About 7,000 people have been forced to flee villages in the district, according to Sadari.
“The Kuchis attacked about 175 villages in the district in groups with weapons and people resisted with whatever they had,” he said.
The Ministry of Interior has sent a delegation to investigate the alleged killings.
Kuchi MP Haji Pari said only a handful of people were creating problems in the province.
Tensions between the two ethnic groups have flared in recent months with both sides claiming ownership over land in the central Hazarajat region.
In April, Human rights workers expressed fears that Hazaras were planning to take up arms against Kuchis who settled on their land.
The Shia Hazaras, who make up 9% of the country’s population, accuse Kuchis of “land-grabbing”.
"Given that both parties lack confidence in the government's ability to solve their disputes they may try to defeat each other by violent means," Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission said in April.
Kuchis, who are predominantly Pashtuns, traditionally move all over the country in search of green pastures for their livestock and, at the start of each spring, many travel to the central provinces, where most of Afghanistan’s Hazaras live.
Kuchi elders complain that Hazaras have enjoyed strong international support since the Taliban’s fall, while Kuchis have been perceived as collaborators of the mainly Pashtun Taliban.
In July 2007, after several people were reportedly killed in clashes between Kuchi herders and Hazara settlers in Behsud district, President Karzai set up a commission to come up with a solution.
President Karzai’s deputy spokesman, Seyamk Hirawi, said: “From last year the government started some efforts to solve these problems and so far both sides have had several meetings.”
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