x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Pakistani Taliban claims killing of 15 kidnapped soldiers

The constabulary commander, Ali Sher Mehsud, said the men were killed in Shawa, a town in the North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN // The bodies of 15 members of Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Constabulary were found yesterday, almost two weeks after they were kidnapped, officials said.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the killings.

The constabulary commander, Ali Sher Mehsud, said the men were killed in Shawa, a town in the North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.

All the corpses, which arrived in a military hospital, had bullet wounds, he said.

The soldiers were kidnapped last month during a night-time attack on a checkpoint in the north-western town of Tank.

Pakistan's seven tribal districts near the Afghan border, including North Waziristan, are rife with home-grown insurgents and are strongholds of Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives.

Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the killings, saying: "We have taken revenge for continued operations of security forces against us. They are in fact fighting for Americans."

Militants opposed to the government, particularly the Tehreek-e-Taliban network, have carried out bomb and gun attacks killing more than 4,700 people across Pakistan since July 2007.

But significantly, there has been no major Islamist militant attack in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed 46 people, targeting an anti-Taliban militia at a funeral on September 15.

The United States described Pakistani tribal regions as the most dangerous place on earth and asked Islamabad to take decisive action against militants, especially in North Waziristan, a bastion of the Haqqani network.

But Pakistan withstood US pressure to wage battle with the Haqqani network, which is blamed for some of the worst attacks in Afghanistan.