Pakistani Taliban kill 15 kidnapped security men

Islamabad:  Taliban militants in Pakistan today said they had killed 15 security personnel who were taken hostage last month when rebels stormed a fort near South Waziristan tribal region.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told the Pashto-language Khyber Television channel that the bodies of the slain Frontier Constabulary personnel had been dumped at Spin Tul, an area near North Waziristan Agency.

Ehsan`s claim could not be independently confirmed. Heavily armed Taliban fighters had kidnapped 15 security personnel when they launched a pre-dawn attack on the Frontier Constabulary`s Mullazai Fort in Tank district, located near South Waziristan Agency, on December 23.

The Taliban had subsequently demanded the release of some militants in exchange for the paramilitary personnel. Correspondents in the tribal belt said they had received calls from the Taliban spokesman early this morning regarding the killing of the security personnel.

The Taliban apparently killed the security personnel in retaliation for an operation by security forces against militants in Khyber Agency a few days ago. Taliban spokesman Ehsan warned that the militant would carry out more "revenge attacks" in the coming days.

He said Taliban would also take revenge for an operation by security forces in Zhob district of Balochistan province that killed several militants on Wednesday. Reporters in the tribal belt said the Taliban were angry at the arrest of several female relatives of militants after the operation in Tirah valley of Khyber Agency.

Officials said a wanted Taliban commander, Kamran Khalid, was among 12 militants killed in the operation in Khyber Agency on Sunday.

The kidnapped Frontier Constabulary personnel were killed just days after five Taliban factions agreed to form a council to remove differences and to punish those who kidnap people from ransom.

The incident occurred against the backdrop of reported talks between the security establishment and Taliban militants. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan deputy chief Maulvi Faqir Muhammad has claimed that talks are going on with the government but spokesman Ehsan denied the claim.