Operation Khyber 1: Tribesmen continue to spill out of Bara, despite threats

Published: October 22, 2014
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

BARA: Amid threats of a militant group, tribesmen from scattered areas of Bara plains and the mountainous region of Tirah  continued to abandon their homes and move towards peaceful and secure areas, mostly Peshawar and its adjoining villages and hamlets.

Although formal registration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Bara sub-division is yet to be designed, the political administration in collaboration with FATA Disaster Management has opened entry points at Ali Masjid of Jamrud Tehsil in Khyber Agency and Peshawar.

Officials on Tuesday said that so far more than 1,500 families have abandoned their homes and proceeded towards Peshawar.

The tribal sources said that banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) – headed by Mangal Bagh – on Monday night made announcements through their FM radio, warning tribesmen that they would face dire consequences if they vacated their houses.

However, tribal sources said a majority of tribesmen – disregarding the threats – have started leaving the area for safe places. The displacement from Bara had escalated in the wake of security forces’ shelling on Monday on suspected militant hideouts and compounds.

However, due to lack of transportation facilities a large number of tribesmen – including women and children –were witnessed walking towards Peshawar both in Chora Valley and Sheen Qamar Road, which connects Tirah Valley with Jamrud and Bara towns.

Some of the tribesmen reaching Peshawar have complained about the indifferent attitude of the police guarding check posts on the boundaries between Peshawar and Khyber Agency.

While officials claimed that 1,500 families had so far abandoned their homes in scattered areas of Bara, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) activist Shah Faisal Afridi said around 20,000 to 30,000 tribesmen had landed in Peshawar and its surrounding areas.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Afridi expressed grave concern over what he called “negative and inhumane attitude on the part of government functionaries, who failed in facilitating displacement from the area.”

Meanwhile, different political parties from Bara region held on Tuesday an all parties conference (APC) in Peshawar, where they expressed severe resentment over policies of the government.

Opposing military action Khyber 1, the APC demanded that the government resolve the issue through dialogue instead of military action.

The tribal elders, affiliated with different political outfits, also demanded that the government ensure maximum facilities and help to all those who are being displaced as a result of Khyber 1.

A number of political, religious and non-government organisations have established relief camps for the IDPs on Peshawar-Torkham Road, Bara-Peshawar Road, Ring Road and Frontier Road. The volunteers of these organisations are providing water, food and other facilities to the migrating families.

Meanwhile, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) also went off on Bara Port Saloop Road on Tuesday morning. However, no loss of life or property was reported. The officials said target of the IED was a convoy of the security forces, which fortunately crossed the spot before the blast.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.

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