The Times reports that the Taliban have taken a ghastly revenge on a village that threw them out four months ago. 40 locals, many children, were murdered in a car bomb blast.
Shal Bandai, a remote settlement in North West Frontier province, about 175 miles north of Peshawar, was targeted because its citizens had dared to challenge the Taliban, who now control huge swathes of Pakistan in the tribal territories along the Afghan border. Last Sunday a suicide bomber drove up to the village school, which was being used as a polling station for a local by-election, and blew himself up.
Rokhan Gul, a pupil at the school, witnessed the attack. “I saw the bomber just before the blast,” he said. “While taking a sharp curve at the corner of the street his car slipped into a culvert and all of us helped push him out of the hole. Just 10 minutes later I heard a huge explosion and I immediately knew he was the bomber.”
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing. The following day Shah Durran, a Taliban commander in the neighbouring district of Swat, announced on his banned radio station: “We will even kill your children.” Last week in Swat another Taliban commander declared a ban on girls’ education, saying it was unIslamic. The Taliban have burnt down more than 100 schools in the past year.
People have formed lashkars (local militias) to protect themselves. Shal Bandai was the first village to raise a lashkar last summer to fight back against the Taliban and paid the price. Fakhre Alam, a schoolteacher who is the head of the committee charged with the security of the village, said the locals had turned down a reward of 5m rupees (£44,000) from the Pakistani government after their clash with the Taliban. “We don’t need money. We need peace and security. We asked the government to set up a college instead of sending more weapons to our young people”, he said
“We shall fight. This is our life and only we have a right to it. Who are they to dictate to us? We’re not going to give in,” said Alam