PESHAWAR- After threats from the Bara-based outlawed Lashkar-i-Islam, scores of Afghan and Zakakhel tribesmen from Khyber tribal region’s Bara area today have started shifting to safer places.
Tribal and the official sources confirmed that the Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-i-Islam had warned Afghan refugees and the Zakakhel Shinwari tribes, a sub-tribe of the Afridis, and known their tribal fierceness, living in the area to announce allegiance to the Lashkar or leave Bara where the banned group is still known to have stronghold. Most of these people were settled in Akakhel, Sipah, Malikdin Khel and Shalobar areas in Khyber region who were given the deadline of April 27, 2014 4pm to take either of the options as their decision.
The tribals in Bara area said that the militants of Lashkar-i-Islam had visited them personally and asked them to support the banned organisation while warning that they would have to leave the area in case they decided otherwise. An Afghan refugee Rehman Gul who was leaving from Bara via Bara Qadeem check post, to a safer place said that the banned outfit has threatened the refugees to vacate the area. He said that they had been living in Bara for the past 27 years and now were forced to leave. “I am moving to my relatives’ place in Baghbanan area near Urmar, which is safer than here,” he added.
According to a report, Qayyum Khan the in-charge of the Police checkpost at Bara Qadeem, on the border of restive Bara region said that so far between 10 to 15 families have crossed the border with their luggage and there were still many moving out from the area. When asked about the reasons for the movement of these people, he said although the exact reasons were not known but many of the displacing people have said that they were forcibly evicted by some Bara-based militant groups. Another Afghan named, Abdul Qadeem who was also shifting his family said “I was asked to provide fighters, or money, to Mangal Bagh, the chief of Lashkar-i-Islam, either of which I couldn’t so I had to move out. We had been living peacefully for the past many years with the locals and now we don’t want to become a party in their personal fight,” he said. He added that there were hundreds of Shinwaris and Afghans who would have to leave the region if they choose not to be a part of the fight. A political administration official who wished not to be identified said that the militant group wanted to recruit people forcibly from the areas and that’s why they were forcing the Afghans and the other tribes to give them fighters or money to supplement their strength.