“One Friday morning of September 2016, our friends decided to hold a cricket tournament in our village Pae Khan. On the day of the final match, we decided to offer the Friday prayers first and went to the nearby mosque. I sat in the main hall while other players adjusted in the veranda of the mosque. Suddenly, the slogans of Allah o Akbar raised and a massive blast followed – killing five players of our tournament,” narrates 19-year-old Nisar Khan.
37 people were killed as a result of the suicide attack, including the students and children of Pae Khan village. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the TTP splinter group Jamaat ul Ahrar, who maintained that their target was the peace committee volunteers.Many peace committee members have been killed in the area due to their strong resistance to militancy.
The injured were shifted to a hospital in Bajaur Agency on local transport as the rescue teams arrived two hours after the blast.
Zarwali, a daily wager in Rawalpindi, come to his native village Ambar on his friend’s invitation to the cricket tournament. He made a century in the semifinal match and told us in jubilation that he would play for Pakistan one day. Unfortunately, he was among the players sitting in the veranda of the mosque and was killed in the attack.
“I would have never allowed my youngest son to play the tournament if I were aware that he would be killed,” says Amreena – mother of Zarwali.
Ranra Khan, a resident of Pae Khan village, lost his four sons to the blast. Shocked upon hearing the news, he returned home immediately, only to find people digging graves in front of his house.
The eldest 22-year-old Wahab was the father to a minor while 18-year-old Naeem was busy in his marriage preparations. The other two – Mushtaq and Shahab – were still in schools. “I visit their graves 4 to 5 times every day and sit there for hours,” says 60-year-old Ranra Khan.
Also, among the casualties was a teacher of a primary school in Ambar village, who was the only source of education for 400 children. Located on the Pak-Afghan border, Ambar village doesn’t have a hospital and electricity even in 2017.
Awal Gul, a resident of Ambar village, who lost his three sons to the blast was promised a monthly compensation by the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Corps Commander Peshawar. They also promised the construction of a hospital and a middle school in the area, but these promises still remain unfulfilled.
The trophies purchased for the tournament still sit in the village shop.
The people of the village gather every day in an open lawn near the mosque to remember their loved one lost to the attack.
The writer is a journalist based in Mohmand Agency, FATA. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @malikpak199