Monday, July 18, 2011

Taliban video shows fighters shooting dead 16 Pakistani police officers

The officers were captured when Taliban fighters crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistan's north-western Dir district in June

Associated Press, Monday 18 July 2011 12.45 BST
An Afghan national army soldier chops wood in Kunar province, from where hundreds of Taliban fighters crossed into Pakistan on 1 June. Photograph: Rafiq Maqbool/AP

The Taliban have released a video showing fighters shooting dead 16 Pakistani tribal police officers captured in a cross-border raid from Afghanistan last month.

The video, released on Monday, shows the police officers lined up on a hillside with their hands tied behind their backs, standing in front of armed Taliban fighters wearing scarves to hide their faces. One of the insurgents accuses the men of shooting dead six children from Pakistan's Swat valley by firing squad. "They are the enemies of the religion of Allah," the man says of the police officers.

He and several other fighters then open fire on the police officers, who crumple to the ground. One fighter walks down the line shooting the officers in the head.

The video was posted on the LiveLeak video sharing website and included a note saying the police officers were captured when the Taliban staged a cross-border raid from Afghanistan on 1 June in Pakistan's north-western Dir district.

A Pakistani army spokesman has confirmed the contents of the video, and said the Taliban fighters who killed the police officers came from the Swat valley, which used to be controlled by the militants. The Pakistani military launched an offensive in Swat in 2009, but many of the fighters escaped across the border into Afghanistan.

Hundreds of Taliban fighters crossed into Upper Dir on 1 June from Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province. They killed at least 30 members of the security forces over three days of fighting before being forced back across the border by the military, the spokesman said.

The Pakistani military has complained that Afghan and Nato forces have not done enough to target Taliban sanctuaries in Kunar, where the US withdrew most of its forces over the past year.

Afghanistan and the US have criticised Pakistan for not doing enough to target sanctuaries on its side of the border filled with militants who regularly launch attacks against Nato troops in Afghanistan. The Afghan government has also accused Pakistan of firing hundreds of rockets into Kunar over the past few months and killing at least 40 people – an allegation denied by Pakistan.

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