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Militants force thousands to flee FR Peshawar

April 17, 2013

— Reuters/File Photo

PESHAWAR: Thousands of people fled the semi-tribal Akakhel area and shifted to different localities of Peshawar after receiving threats from banned militant group Lashkar-i-Islam of Khyber Agency.

A number of Akakhel people told Dawn on Tuesday that they had to leave their homes because Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) had warned them to support it or vacate the area.

They said that about 5,000 people had left the area. However, police put the number of displaced Akakhel persons at 2,000. “We received many warnings in the past but did not pay any head to these, however, the latest warning was given directly by militants, who came on motorcycles and talked to our elders to leave the area or ready to die,” said Mohammadullah Khan, a resident of Akakhel in Frontier Region of Peshawar. He said that at least 5,000 people had reached Koh-i-Daman, a suburban area of Peshawar. He said that the displaced people were residing with their relatives and under the open sky.

“Many of the displaced people have been accommodated by the residents of Matani, Badbher, Mashokhel, Maryamzai, Sherikera, Zangali, Sheikhan and other localities. We are in dire need of food, shelter and other daily use items but the government is yet to take notice of our miseries,” Mr Khan said.

Mr Khan said that media didn’t highlight the miseries of those people, who walked on foot from Akakhel to reach safer places owing to non-availability of transport facility.

“Usually the drivers of Datsun pick-up demand Rs500 to 1,000 from Peshawar to Akakhel but now they demand Rs4,000 for a single trip owing to the alarming law and order situation in the area,” he said.Mr Khan said that they left behind household items to save their lives. He said that most of the displaced Akakhel people belonged to Zawa, Margat and Hassankhel villages.

He said that basic reason of their displacement was establishment of peace committees in the area. “The people of Akakhel supported the anti-Taliban lashkar and blocked entry of militants into Peshawar district. It infuriated militants and they started targeting our people. Many of our people were killed in targeted attacks, bomb blasts and even students of the area were killed in the recent past,” he said.

The law enforcement agencies, he said, also asked people to save themselves as the situation was very alarming and they might face casualties if they remained in their homes.

Mr Khan said that a government primary school in Ajab Talal village and houses of the leaders of some of the peace bodies were also blown up on Monday.

He said that terrorists also attacked Zawa Levies checkpost on Tuesday night. Several persons were injured in the attack, he added.

Haji Gul, another resident of the area, demanded of the government to register Akakhel people as internally displaced persons, provide essential commodities to them and arrange schooling for the students.

He said that local people were offering cooked food to them but it was not a matter of a day or two. It was duty of the government to take steps for supporting them, he said. “We are also in dire need of drinking water,” Mr Gul said.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Rural Circle Shafiullah Khan, when contacted, said that at least 1,500 Akakehl people were staying in Matani and over 200 families in Badbher and adjacent areas. “Security is our main concern and thus we have established checkpoints at different places and deployed police to conduct search of the luggage and bodies of the people entering Peshawar,” he added.

The SP said that influx of Akakhel people started a few days ago when tribal people from Tirah valley were shifting to Peshawar owing to operation there.

Despite repeated efforts officials of Provincial Disaster Management Authority could not be contacted by telephone.