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Bodies of Pak cops killed by militants handed over

world Updated: Jul 13, 2008 23:05 IST
Kamal Siddiqi
Kamal Siddiqi
Hindustan Times
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The bodies of 17 soldiers of Frontier Constabulary who were killed by the extremists at Zargari area on Saturday were handed over to a tribal Jirga (council of elders) on Sunday.

Twenty-five people, including 17 paramilitary personnel, four civilians and five militants, were killed and several others injured when the local Taliban ambushed a convoy of security forces.

In response, de-facto interior minister Rehman Malik said in Islamabad the government would “strike harder” at militant groups. Malik said Pakistan would “redouble its efforts in the war on terror” after officials met Admiral Mike Mullen, the visiting chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. US officials are said to be critical of Pakistan’s efforts at tackling militant groups on its soil, local media said.

Moulvi Omar, the head of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has threatened more such action against government forces. Omar told a local TV channel that the war with the government of Pakistan was actually a war with the West, which was backing the Pakistan government.

Militants led by Baitullah Mehsud on Friday claimed to have held 29 security personnel hostage in Hangu and threatened to start killing them one by one if the government did not stop the military operation against them and their men were not released.

While the militants have called for an end to the military operation, local military commanders have claimed success in their efforts in North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Meanwhile, despite a strong protest lodged by Pakistan with the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan over this week’s attack on the border town of Angoor Adda, US fighter aircraft and pilotless spy planes again intruded into Pakistan’s airspace in Bajaur, and North and South Waziristan tribal agencies on Saturday.

English language daily The News reported that a US fighter aircraft intruded about five kilometres into Pakistan’s airspace near Nawa Pass area in the militant-controlled Bajaur Agency. The paper said said the plane flew over the border area and returned to Afghanistan’s Kunar province.