LAKKI MARWAT: Ten years after a deadly attack that killed more than 100 people during a volleyball match, New Year’s Day remains a time of grief for Pakistan’s northwestern village of Shah Hassan Khel.
On Jan. 1, 2010, a suicide bomber rammed a double-cabin pickup truck loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives into families and children crowded on a playground in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Lakki Marwat district, killing 105 people and wounding scores more in what is considered one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s history.
Shah Hassan Khel was chosen because residents of the village were forming a pro-government militia to defend against Taliban assaults. The explosion collapsed homes surrounding the field. Police at the time said the blast was so powerful that it left a number of victims buried under rubble, and authorities were uncertain exactly how many had died.
“My life is like stagnant water, it’s totally dark everywhere, everything is tasteless and meaningless,” Zaitun Bibi, 50, who lost her husband and two sons in the blast, told Arab News this week.
Abdul Malik, a development activist in Shah Hassan Khel, said the attack had widowed at least 60 women in the village, for whom mourning together had become a daily ritual.
“Whenever we meet in any village function, we talk about our heydays and at the end we cry,” Bibi said.
The blast also killed most of Shah Hassan Khel’s volleyball team, which had won many medals and trophies in district and provincial tournaments.
The volleyball ground in the middle of the town is always deserted now, locals said. Young boys set up nets in other parts of the village, but nobody comes to watch them play.
“Shah Hassan Khel’s brilliant players vanished within minutes and since then the villagers don’t consider volleyball an entertainment,” Sana Ullah Khan, a village shopkeeper, said.
“Elders don’t come to watch volleyball and widows or relatives of the assassinated turn their faces as they don’t want to see the net and ball,” said Naeem Khan, a 22-year-old resident of Shah Hassan Khel. “And all the champions are in the graveyard.”