‘We buried our dead after government aid arrived’
Voice of war victims
KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): The family who lost six members to a 2012 suicide attack in southeastern Khost province says the dead bodies remained at home for 24 hours because they lacked money to pay for burial costs.
The family has long been in economic constrains and is currently in urgent need of food and other basic amenities of life. The ill-fated family says it received 100,000 afghanis from the government in early days of the suicide attack, but no one visited them since then to ask about their situation.
The suicide attack on June 6, 2012 targeted Afghan and American forces when they were busy subjecting people to biometric identification – a new technology which foreign forces and some departments use to identify individuals from fingerprints and retina.
At the time, eyewitnesses had said the suicide bomber was on foot and detonated his explosives upon approaching the American troops in Khost City.
The attack besides causing casualties to some American forces killed more than 20 civilians and injured nearly 40 others civilians.
Most of the victims were poor people who had set up makeshift fruit and cobbler shops on the side of the road.
Timor Shah, a 32-year-old man who lives in Panzai area south of Khost City, told Pajhwok Afghan News the attack killed six male members of his family.
He said the victims including his brothers and uncles were cobblers who had been running their shops near the Spin Jumat and footpaths and all were killed in the suicide attack targeting foreign forces.
He said the six dead bodies remained at home for one day and night lined up in the courtyard of their house and they were sitting around the beds crying.
In a breaking voice he recalled: “Women and children tired of crying and tears dried up in their eyes. We could not bury the dead without pall and finally the government assisted us to buy palls.”
Timor Shah’s family has 51 members including 35 children and all are living in small rooms of their small home in extreme poverty.
Timor Shah said there were two children in his family who were born after the death of their fathers. Shah, a labourer, said meeting the needs of the entire family was on his shoulders.
He said he could not even provide one time meal to the entire family in a satisfactory manner and the family needed preliminary food items.
A woman in the family, who did not want her name to be published, told Pajhwok Afghan News that their economic situation was good before the suicide attack but deteriorated after the incident.
“My son, brother, son-in-law and two cousins and a grandson of my aunt were killed in the attack. They were eating meal, pieces of bread were in their mouths and hands when they died.”
She said they had many times knocked at the doors of the government, the Afghan Red Crescent Society and some NGOs, but no one assisted them.
Cleaning her tears with her scarf, the bereaved mother said after three years of the carnage, their house remained a place of daily mourning.
“The deceased left behind widows and their small children. I and other women in the family daily weep and sometimes cry loud.”
Another woman in the family said their adults often remained hungry as they struggled to find something to eat for the children.
She said they could not afford to buy firewood to keep warm their rooms in this harsh winter and their children used to collect sawdust from nearby timber shops. They used the sawdust for cooking only.
“In the first year, we were given 100,000 afghanis each, but then no one came to us for assistance. We urge the government and wealthy people to assist us with food items and firewood.”
A member of the provincial council, Qadim Afghan, said families of the victims had been given 100,000 afghanis for each dead and 50,000 afghanis for each injured family member in compliance with a presidential decree by former president Hamid Karzai.
He said the affected families should have been registered for monthly stipends with the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled.
About investigation into the deadly attack, he said the government had never taken effective measures to arrest and punish the perpetrators of such incidents.
“First the government does not go after criminals and if it arrests someone, he is released in return for money,” the public representative said, asking the government to avoid negligence in arresting and punishing criminals and discharge its duty in this regard with honesty.
Khost Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled department head Kamaluddin Zadran said most of the people killed and injured since 1978 had been registered with his department and they received monthly stipends.
He said it was possible some families had not been approached and they themselves had failed to register their names with the department.
“Under the law, families of killed and wounded persons should complete all stages of the registration from police headquarters to the governor’s house and finally the ministry.”
He said family of a slain person received 60,000 afghanis per year and the family of an injured person 30,000 per year.
Pajhwok tried to seek comments from security departments particularly the police headquarters about investigation into the 2012 suicide attack, but failed to elicit a positive response.
The governor’s spokesman, Mubariz Mohammad Zadran, said the provincial administration had become more attentive to problems of war victims and had taken a serious decision to support them.
He said Governor Hukam Khan Habibi in this regard had proposed recommendation in a series of meeting with officials of the Red Crescent Society, the Rural Rehabilitation and Development and the Emergency Response Committee.
Generally families who have lost their heads and breadwinners are facing severe economic hardships in the country. These families have been ignored after being paid the compensation amounts for their dead and wounded relatives.
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