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Six Barbers Killed in Pakistan's Tribal District


North Waziristan, Pakistan
North Waziristan, Pakistan

Bodies of six men shot to death were found in fields Tuesday in North Waziristan, a tribal district in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

The deceased were identified as barbers from Pakistan’s eastern province of Punjab.

Speaking to VOA’s Urdu service, District Police Officer Roohan Zeb Khan declared the deaths a terror incident. He said the killings were being investigated and the bodies would be handed over to families after identification is completed.

Haji Mujtaba, a local journalist, said all the barbers ran shops in the same market in Mir Ali, the second-largest town in North Waziristan. He said the men were kidnapped a day earlier.

No group has claimed responsibility so far, but the presence of armed militants, primarily from the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, has increased significantly in the tribal districts since the Afghan Taliban returned to power across the border in August 2021.

When the Taliban were first in power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, men were forbidden from shaving their beards or maintaining short hair or trendy styles. Those who disobeyed were often beaten, with their heads shaved forcibly.

The TTP imposed similar restrictions on Pakistanis after militants took control of the scenic Swat valley in the early 2000s. Their reign of terror ended after a military operation in 2009.

Pamphlets forbidding barbers from cutting men’s hair into certain styles have been appearing in Pakistan’s tribal areas in the last several months. It is not yet clear, however, if the six barbers were targeted for their profession.

In a statement sent to the media late in the evening, TTP denied involvement in the incident.

Shamim Shahid from VOA's Urdu Service contributed to this report