Activists of the Khyber Agency-based militant outfit, Lashker-e-Islam, have demanded payment from the resident of the Acheni Bala union council in exchange for their safety, local villagers told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
They said that militants of the banned outfit came to their village, a part of Peshawar district, and after a show of muscle in the shape of an armed patrol inside the village they informed the residents that each house-owner must pay Rs5,000, besides a monthly payment of Rs1,000 – if they don’t comply, the militants warned, the residents will have their houses blown up.
“They were well armed and riding bikes. There are at least 500 houses in the locality and the local residents must obey the order to avoid confrontation as we are poor people and cannot afford it,” explained a resident who requested anonymity.
Replying to a question, he said that they had no option but to obey the order as the police too had abandoned them despite the fact that their village, known as Mera Acheni, lies in the settled district of Peshawar.
“Adding further insult to our injuries, after the militants came the activists of the so-called Aman lashkar of the Shalober area of Khyber Agency, who informed us that anyone who pays the amount to the militants will be dealt with harshly,” he added, saying they had been given the option to choose between the two.
People in surrounding villages have been similarly harassed.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2012.
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