10 security personnel, who went missing from Orakzai Agency after an attack by militants on December 21, were found dead on Monday near Dabori in Upper Orakzai.
Following the killing of 15 Frontier Constabulary personnel last week, Monday’s recovery was the latest flare-up in the agency.
The bodies were recovered from the Kago Qamar area where militants attacked the security personnel, a security official told The Express Tribune, requesting to remain anonymous. “It was an advancing party that came under attack,” the official said, adding that there were two officers amongst the 22 security personnel injured in the December 21 attack.
The bodies were recovered at around 10 am, the political administration confirmed. “They had been shot,” revealed witnesses.
The bodies were brought to the Kayala Headquarters from where they were flown off to Peshawar where funeral prayers were offered for the deceased, sources said.
A jirga went to negotiate with the militants the exchange of bodies of the security personnel for bodies of militants killed in last week’s attack, sources said. However, there was no official confirmation of this statement. Names of the deceased were withheld from the media as well.
A lesser-known militant group, Gulzaman group, working under the umbrella of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) previously claimed responsibility for kidnapping the 10 soldiers. According to Reuters, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the killing. “We take responsibility for killing the 10 soldiers whose bodies have been recovered from Orakzai,” Ehsanullah told Reuters from an undisclosed location. “This is an exchange of bodies with them, as they killed 10 of our people and we have responded with killing 10 of their men,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
The opening of the Kurram Highway in close proximity of Orakzai means that the military operations are in fact effective, Fata former security secretary Brigadier Mehmood Shah said, adding, however, that “it’s a slow process, but the militants have been defeated to quite an extent”.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM REUTERS)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2012.