ISLAMABAD: Five Pakistani nationals, including a woman, who were kidnapped in Afghanistan’s volatile eastern Paktia province on August 14, were found dead on Thursday.
An Afghan journalist in Paktia, Ihsanulah Mahjoor, told The Express Tribune via phone that bodies of the five Pakistanis were found in Jani Khel district. They were kidnapped a week ago from Samankani, a district bordering Pakistan on their way to Parachinar. Family members of the victims earlier this week had said that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of Rs6 million.
Residents of Parachinar and upper parts of the Kurram Agency had no choice but to travel through Afghanistan to get to their native areas ever since the Peshawar-Parachinar Road has become unsafe and is frequently attacked by militants. Travellers routinely enter the Paktia province and cross the Torkham border after a long journey through Logar, Kabul and Nangrahar provinces.
Deputy Governor Paktia province Abdul Rahman Mangal said he had asked tribal elders in the Samankani and Jani Khel districts to trace the killers. He said that although the victims were Shias, the real motive behind the murders was unclear. He said bodies of the slain men and woman would be handed over to their relatives.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the incident.
Earlier in July last year, at least 11 Pakistanis had been killed when unknown gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the Samankani district of the same province.
Kurram Agency has seen a surge in sectarian conflict over the past few years and the added presence of Taliban militants has resulted in the closure of several roads, forcing local people to travel on a long and risky route through Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2011.