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Militants behead Pakistani soldier: officials

world Updated: Dec 16, 2007 17:58 IST

AFP
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Pakistani security forces on Sunday recovered the beheaded body of a soldier from a restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan, local officials said.

The body, along with its severed head, was found dumped near a road on the outskirts of Khar, the main town in the tribal Bajaur region, they said.

A letter recovered from his pocket said the soldier belonged to the paramilitary force, local official Fazle Rabbi said.

It went on to say that the soldier had been killed by local Taliban. It gave no reason, Rabbi said.

Suspected pro-Taliban militants in recent weeks have abducted more than a dozen Pakistani security personnel in Bajaur, a volatile region where Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants are known to have hideouts.

Local Taliban abducted eight soldiers last month, saying they would be swapped for militants held in the troubled northwestern valley of Swat.

The Pakistan army launched a major offensive in Swat last month to drive out followers of Maulana Fazlullah, a radical cleric who has demanded Islamic law in the scenic valley.

More than 300 militants have been killed and dozens have been arrested in the ongoing operation in which supporters of Fazlullah have been dislodged from several towns, officials said.

President Pervez Musharraf cited growing militancy as one of the reasons for declaring emergency rule on November 3 and ordered the army to re-establish government control in the area.

He announced the lifting of the emergency rule on Saturday amid criticism at home and abroad.