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Peshawar in shock after airport attack

December 16, 2012

PESHAWAR, Dec 16: The residents of Kandi Jamroze Khan, a small locality opposite the western boundary wall of Bacha Khan International Airport and PAF Base, are in a state of shock after the Saturday night brazen attack by militants that left several houses and vehicles damaged besides five persons dead and over 40 injured.

On Sunday several of the families in the area were seen leaving their houses as they were no longer fit for living. Over a dozen houses were damaged badly in the attack. The boundary walls of several houses were demolished and cracks were visible in several others. Roofs of some of the structures caved in and their windowpanes were shattered.

A small road separates the locality, situated in Abdara village, from Bacha Khan International Airport and PAF Base both of whom share a joint airfield.

However, the two portions of the western wall, which the attackers breached, are towards the base and installations of PAF and Army Aviation Authority are situated in that area. The road connects Bara Road to several villages and Old Bara Road in an upscale University Town locality.

The security forces erected a makeshift curtain to hide broken portion of the boundary wall of the PAF Base where some labourers were busy in its reconstruction. Residents of the area and passersby were peeping through holes in the curtain.

The wreckage of the vehicle used by the attackers to make a breach in the wall by exploding it was also lying nearby the broken wall. Blood stains were also visible at different spots which the local people said were of the killed militants. Remains of a suicide  vest were also lying nearby along with pieces of human flesh.

A big cater at the place of occurrence was a testimony to the severity of the blast. Local people said that first they heard an  explosion and when they came out of their residences they saw the vehicle was being pushed by militants towards the boundary wall and soon it exploded with a deafening noise.

“Soon it was chaos with injured people lying at different spots groaning with pain amidst complete darkness and plume of dust,” said Abdul Ghafoor, a resident of the locality. He said that they saw remains and  bodies of the attackers, probably four or five in number. He said that the outer wall of his residence collapsed and windows were also broken, but his family remained unhurt.

Most of the inhabitants contradicted the accounts of the law enforcement agencies that the attackers were killed in exchange of fire.

They said that soon after the vehicle exploded they saw the dismembered bodies whereas one of the attackers was still alive but  wounded critically. They said that after about an hour the injured militant also expired.

However, none of them had seen any of the militants fleeing.

Provincial Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, who visited the area and inspected the damage, told the people that on  Saturday night he was passing by the site of the first blast near Old Bara Road where he spotted a vehicle on fire while two persons, apparently attackers, were fleeing away. He added that it was a well coordinated attack, carried out from different sides.

He told journalists that it was time for the federal government to decide about shifting of the airport and base from the  populated area to some safer location.

About compensation for the damaged property and vehicles, Mr Bilour said that it was not the policy of provincial government  to pay compensation for damaged property. The affected persons should submit applications that would be considered by them, he added.

Faheem Khan, another resident of the locality, was busy in loading important household items in a tractor trolley. He said that  as the entire structure of his house had cracked, therefore he shifted his family to residence of one of their relatives in some other area.

Mr Khan said that Saturday night occurrence was like a nightmare and the loud explosions still echoed in his mind. He said that women and children in the area were crying and the injured were calling for help.

He added that the government should compensate the people as most of the affected persons belonged to poor families.

Several linemen of Wapda were seen busy in repairing the snapped wires on both sides of the road. One of them said that they had been trying their level best to repair the broken wires so that electricity could be restored at the earliest.