Pakistani village fights Taliban grip on its youth

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Islamabad, Jan. 18 (ANI): Shah Hassan Khel, a village near South Waziristan in Pakistan, has witnessed an offensive between the Pakistan Army and the Taliban since October 2009, which has killed hundreds of natives.

The village forms a cautionary tale of a community forced to choose between the Taliban and the state, bound by blood ties and centuries of tribal tradition, but torn apart by extremist ideology.

The events that led to the New Year's Day massacre in Shah Hassan Khel describe the grip that Taliban has now on the youth. A suicide bomber drove his truck into a village volleyball game and a crowd of spectators, the explosion killed young men from nearly every family in the small, closely knit tribal community.

The attack was the deadliest act of retaliation to date by extremist Islamist forces against the handful of communities in northwest Pakistan that have tried to resist them.

In the past, militants attacked or killed local leaders who formed militias against them, but they had never terrorized an entire village.

Last week, a dozen elders from Shah Hassan Khel described a scene of carnage and panic after the bomb exploded, leaving a huge crater in the playing field and scattering bodies too charred to identify.

"Every family in our village has lost a relative, but no one is weeping," The Washington Post quoted Mushtaq Ahmed, a villager as saying.

"The bomb destroyed our village, but it has not taken away our courage. Once our 40 days of mourning are finished, we will fight and keep fighting as long as a single man is left in the village," he added. (ANI)

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