PESHAWAR -- Parents of the young Pakistanis killed in a September 16 suicide bombing of a Mohmand Agency mosque are condemning militancy and terrorism in the strongest terms.
The bombing killed at least 36 people in a village in Anbar Tehsil, Mohmand Agency, during Friday prayers after Eid ul Adha.
The explosion caused part of the mosque and its veranda to collapse on worshippers, raising the number of casualties, according to witnesses.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) offshoot Jamatul Ahrar, which was designated a global terrorist group in August, claimed responsibility, saying that it targeted members of a local anti-militancy peace committee.
Steeped in grief and disbelief at the untimely deaths of their loved ones, the victims' families are standing up to terrorism and vow to support the Pakistani army's operations against militancy.
Ranra Khan, a resident of Mohmand Agency, said he will never forget the day his children were killed for no fault of their own.
"I learned that four of my sons were killed in the attack," he told Pakistan Forward. "It caused me immense grief and anger, and subsequently I decided to fully support the government's campaign against militants to ensure a safe future for others."
The attack is contrary to Islam, he said.
"Militants have widely been condemned by people because they misuse the name of Islam to cover their terrorism," he said. "Islam is a religion of peace and does not permit assassinations."
Shameen Gul, a resident of Anbar Tehsil, said his wife had become completely despondent after the deaths of their two sons, aged 16 and 18.
"The Taliban have thrown us into an ocean of grief and sorrow; they are enemies of humanity," he told Pakistan Forward.
Gul, a member of the local peace committee, said he will never forgive the militants for what they have been doing to humanity. He vowed to continue to work as a peacemaker for the sake of the people's prosperity.
Mursalin Shah, a schoolteacher and resident of Butmaina village in Anbar Tehsil, said the public is furious with militants for targeting a sacred place where the faithful gathered to seek blessings from God.
"Militants have been inviting the wrath of Allah, due to which they are facing exemplary defeat at the hands of security forces," he said. "Not too long ago the Taliban called the shots in the tribal areas, but now they have been eliminated."
Many witnesses to the bombing said they dug graves and pledged to devote all their energy and time to expelling the militants and paving the way for peace.
The mosque used to host meetings regarding peace in the area, said Ghani Rehman, a local carpenter.
"The entire area mourned the killing of people in the dreadful incident, which eliminated most of those peace-loving people," he told Pakistan Forward.
"Pain and agony continue to grip the area, but there is a consensus that the people will not let the militants have a free ride," he said.
Rehman said he was about to enter the mosque when the blast occurred and he saw human flesh scattered throughout the site. "I saw people buried under the debris, but local residents rushed to the spot and transported the injured people to hospitals," he said.
"Militants have killed about 100 members of peace committees [in the area] in the past five years, but new people continue to join the peace efforts," he said.
Awami National Party leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain of Peshawar said he is sick of the militants and urged the Pakistani government to continue its efforts to establish peace.
"Various groups of militants are on the run because of military operations, but we are afraid they might reorganise if action is slowed down," he told Pakistan Forward. "The militants, their supporters and financiers should be chased vigorously."
The government also should protect people against target killing in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), he said.
"It is obvious to everyone that militants have lost the capability to freely operate in the country; therefore, they have focused on killing people anywhere they can," he said.
"The Taliban have completely failed to enforce their illegitimate agenda," he said. "Their intimidation and killing of worshippers show their disappointment and desperation."
"Our party will continue to oppose militancy in all its forms and will support any move directed at the terrorism," he said.
Wahid Gul, one of seven survivors receiving treatment at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar, expressed confidence that militancy will end soon.
"Given the sacrifices of the people as well as of the army, peace is not elusive," he told Pakistan Forward. "The Pakistani army has been battling terrorists on the one hand and providing treatment facilities to injured people on the other. It is highly appreciable."
"I was treated with respect at the CMH Peshawar free of cost," he said. "On the day of the attack, we were airlifted ... to Peshawar, which enabled us to survive."
"To pay back the army for their services, we are ready to fight militants alongside our soldiers," he said.
How effective will the future fence along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border be in controlling the movement of militants?