Unidentified militants fired rockets and hurled grenades at the Togh Sarai Camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) from Orakzai early Tuesday, following up on earlier threats asking IDPs to vacate by June 11 (today).
The camp police in charge, Islam Badshah, said the attack was carried out around 1am. Militants fired three rockets at tents. They lobbed a grenade which landed in an open space alongside a rocket and exploded. The rest of the rockets hit the tents of Niaz Badshah and Atta Khan, destroying the make-shift shelter. In retaliation, police fired in the general direction of where the rockets came from, forcing the militants to flee. There was no casualty, said Badshah.
The official said heavy contingents of police rushed to the site and patrolled the area while security measures were beefed up after the attack.
Syed Malang, an IDP from Upper Orakzai Agency, said the militants fired more than seven rockets at the camp. “[In letters sent earlier] they threatened to attack again if we do not leave by Wednesday,” he said, adding no official or police came to patrol the area after the attack.
“Everyone is deceiving us, no one is concerned about our security,” he added woefully.
Another IDP, Janan Khan, said they have been receiving threats since the first week of May to evacuate the camp by June 11. “We informed the police and the district government but they did not take any measures.” After the incident, around 150 IDP families packed up and left the camp for other districts, shared Janan.
Loading a pickup with his family’s belongings, Ghulam Jan Orakzai said he can no longer stay at the Togh Sarai camp. While the government was not taking the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) threats seriously, the IDPs were, remarked Orakzai.
“When the TTP attacks police and government installations, they take action. But there is no action for the sake of civilians,” he complained. Orakzai will now move to Kohat with his family and try to find a place to live there. “I do not want my family to be slain by the TTP,” he said.
Despite the severity of the situation, an official at the camp accused the IDPs of planning the attack with the TTP. “They (IDPs) are fed up of their life at the camp and want to repatriate so they conspired with the TTP to pressurise the government by attacking the camp,” claimed the official.
According to displaced person Gulab Khan, despite the attack and threats from the TTP, he cannot move out of the camp because he has nowhere to go. “I have no money to bear the cost of travel and transport. If my family and I are meant to die at the hands of the TTP, then I cannot change that.”
Tribesmen from eight Upper Orakzai Agency tribes held a grand jirga on February 11 this year, demanding the government repatriate them or else they would ask for help from Afghanistan, refuse polio vaccinations and permanently close down Kohat-Hangu Road.
They said they were promised repatriation by July 3, 2013, but when they started loading trucks to go back, they were informed the agency is not ‘clear’ after which they were once again forced to live in camps.
The tribesmen decided this was the last jirga on the issue; if the government does not facilitate their return within three days, they will ask Afghanistan for cooperation.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2014.
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