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Volleyball attack a warning to ‘dissenting’ tribes

world Updated: Jan 03, 2010 23:29 IST
Kamal Siddiqi
Kamal Siddiqi
Hindustan Times
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The people of Lakki Marwat, a small dusty town in the troubled North West Frontier Province, are still reeling from the shock of Friday’s suicide attack in which almost 100 people lost their lives.

Funerals were held on Saturday for mass burial of the victims, many of them as teenagers, who were killed as they watched a volleyball match in the town. In many instances, locals said that there was little left to be buried as body parts had been strewn over a large part of the area.

In fact, most members of the volleyball teams that were playing on Friday cannot be traced. However, according to local police, they were not the target of the attack. It was a message for the members of a peace committee that was about to meet in a mosque next to the field where the game was being held. The peace committee was to discuss its line of action in face of threats from militants.

Mushtaq Marwat, a member of the government backed-peace committee said that militants based in North Waziristan had been threatening members of the committee ever since an operation was undertaken in a place called Shah Hasankhel for the eviction of the militants.

Marwat said that members of the committee, one of several such committees formed by villagers with the backing of the government, have been under threat because militants blame them for the military operation in Shah Hasankhel, where a training camp was based.

The operation took place in December, forcing the militants to flee from the area. Some of them may have returned but many went to North Waziristan from where it is believed they planned their suicide attack.

Khadim Husain, an academic with the Ariana Research Institute, says that the peace committees have been quite successful in challenging the writ of the militants. “It is a myth that the people of the area are with the Taliban. Most of them are scared to speak. And in this the role of the peace committees has been very significant to show that the common people are also fighting extremism.”