PESHAWAR: Darra Adamkhel, a small town situated in a narrow gorge between Kohat and Peshawar, is a shell of its former self.
Located about 25 kilometres south of the provincial capital, it takes its name from the Adamkhel clan of the Afridi tribe and is considered as Asia’s largest centre for the manufacturing of illegal small arms.
Darra is one of the six Frontier Regions (FR) is administered by the District Coordination Officers (DCOs) and is a part of the Kohat district.
Militancy surfaced in this town in early 2007. The ‘vigilantes’ forced drug peddlers to stop operating and destroyed shops that sold charas.
August 2007 also marked the month when they killed a local gang leader, Amir Syed alias Charag, and effectively took control of this well-placed town.
During the same period the militants extended their reach to the nearby Mattani area of Peshawar and forced shops selling CD’s and DVD’s and internet cafes to shut down and bombed those who dared to refuse to comply with their demands.
The period following this witnessed many beheadings, bombings of girl’s schools and the complete establishment of militant rule in this region.
The turning point came towards the end of January 2008, when militants captured trucks carrying military supplies. This led to a military operation, codenamed Eagle Swoop, in which the army drove militants out of this region.
One of the first attacks on jirgas — one of the most important institutions of Pakhtun society – also happened in Darra Adamkhel, on March 2 this year, when a suicide bomber blew himself up killing at least 40 tribesmen and injuring 50 others.
In the past, Darra Adamkhel Taliban, led by Commander Tariq Afridi, a Bazidkhel tribesman, had claimed responsibility for the assassination of Awami National Party Chief Asfandayar Wali Khan in October 2008.
They were also behind the kidnapping and beheading of a Polish engineer from Attock. They also claimed the killing of head of Adezai village Lashkar Haji, Abdul Malik, in a suicide blast in November 2009.
Following the military operation there was a tense calm in this area, disturbed by sporadic incidents of violence.
However, Friday’s attack has again disturbed the fragile peace.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2010.