PESHAWAR: Mockingly terming it “a new year gift” and “avenging” a military operation in the Khyber Agency, the Pakistani Taliban brutally murdered 15 kidnapped Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel on Thursday — vowing further such violence.
The bodies – sustaining 40 bullet holes each and signs of torture – were recovered from North Waziristan and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the killings terming it a “consequence” of the January 1 military operation in Khyber Agency. The security personnel had been in the custody of the militants for over a year – kidnapped on December 22, 2010, when several militants attacked the Mullazai Fort in the Tank district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) bordering South Waziristan.
Officials from North Waziristan told The Express Tribune that the bodies of the security personnel were recovered from Shawa tehsil of North Waziristan. Locals, who wished not to be named, revealed that the bodies were recovered close to a ravine and were horrifically mutilated. The bodies were later shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Thall and flown by helicopter to the FC Headquarter in Peshawar.
The TTP, in a statement issued to the media, said that the killings were in retaliation of the January 1 military operation in which Qari Kamran, a top TTP commander, was killed along with 11 other militants. Two women and three children were also recovered in the operation.
“This is revenge for the killing of our comrades in Khyber by Pakistani forces,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the TTP, told Reuters. “We will soon take revenge for other operations too.”
The Taliban’s statement alleged that there was one woman killed in the operation and others were arrested. “There is no room for such actions in Islam and tribal traditions,” read the statement which called the incident ‘a new year gift’.
“Such actions are unimaginable in a Pakhtun society. Release them or such violence will continue,” said the statement.
The deceased men were identified as Lance Naik Nisar Gul, Ali Ameer Naib Subaidar, Shakeel Gul, Rajid Khan, Muhammad Arif, Khan Talab, Ajeem Khan, Amjid Ali, Tayyab, Riwayat, Uzair Ali, Sabit Khan, Shafiur Rehman, Bacha Khan and Bawar Khan. Eleven of the deceased men belonged to the Mallagori area of Khyber Agency while three were from Shabqadar and one from DI Khan.
While the funeral prayers for 14 of the deceased men were offered at the FC Headquarters in Hayatabad, Peshawar, the body of one of the men was shifted to Dera Ismail Khan.
Senior Minister K-P Bashir Bilour, while speaking to the media, said that the incident came at a time when negotiations were under way
“It’s a reaction to the death of Qari Kamran,” he said. “The government was negotiating terms for the release of these men,” he confirmed.
“These men were brutally shot dead, with 40 bullets each.”
Haji Abdul Manan, the tribal elder of the Mallagori tribe, announced a three-day mourning period in the area. “Our village has not seen so many deaths on a single day,” he told The Express Tribune.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM REUTERS)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2012.