Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the back of the head: Taliban releases horrific video of executions of 15 Pakistani soldiers

Blindfolded and handcuffed to each other on a barren hilltop, Pakistani soldiers wait for death at the hands of a merciless Taliban fighter.

Fifteen men were lined up for execution, the chilling scene captured on film by the Taliban for a video released as a warning to the Pakistani army operating near the Afghan border.

The Frontier Corps soldiers were seized last month in what the Taliban said was an operation to avenge the deaths of insurgents in Pakistan.

The video shows one of the killers from the Pakistan Taliban, or TTP, holding an AK-47 rifle and speaking with fury about revenge.

‘Twelve of our comrades were besieged and mercilessly martyred in the Khyber Agency [area],’ said the militant. ‘Our pious women were also targeted.

‘To avenge those comrades, we will kill these men. We warn the government of Pakistan that if the killing of our friends is not halted, this will be the fate of you all.’

One of the abducted soldiers, sitting alongside his comrades with their arms folded and legs crossed in front of Taliban banners, describes on the video how dozens of insurgents stormed their fort in the north-western Tank district of Pakistan. ‘They attacked us with rockets, killed a sentry,’ he said. ‘One ran away.

‘The Taliban entered the fort and captured us with our weapons. They tied our hands, put us in a Datsun and took us away.’

The video then shows the men standing quietly. Taliban chanting can be heard. ‘We will cross all limits to avenge your blood,’ the chants said, referring to fighters killed by Pakistani security forces.

One of the men shoves a clip into his assault rifle and fires a few rounds into the back of the heads of some of the soldiers. ‘God is greatest,’ the Taliban yell.

Other fighters step up and take turns pumping bullets into the men, some wearing green military uniforms. Each time a soldier collapses, the man standing next to him is pulled in that direction by the handcuffs. After the executions, the Taliban militants stare at the bodies slumped on the ground.

‘If the killing of our friends is not stopped, this will be the fate of all infidel armies, God willing,’ says one militant.

The TTP, formed in 2007, is an umbrella group of Pakistani militant factions operating in the country’s tribal areas.

Allied with the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda, it pledged to overthrow the Pakistani government after the military started operations against militant groups.

It is blamed for many of the suicide bombings across the country and has carried out audacious attacks, including one on army headquarters near the capital Islamabad in 2009.

Despite vastly superior numbers and firepower, Pakistan’s army has failed to break the back of the insurgents in their mountain region strongholds.

The two sides have entered exploratory peace talks that raised hopes that their conflict, which has killed thousands, could ease or even end one day.

But the talks have faltered and the video – copied to compact discs and distributed in street markets in border areas – is likely to enrage the Pakistan military.

The victims were recovered by the Pakistan army and have been given a funeral with full military honours.

Majeed Marwat, a commander of the Frontier Corps, said morale among his men would remain high.

‘Our soldiers enlist because they want to sacrifice for the country,’ he said.

‘We are taking care of the families of the martyred soldiers.’



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