22nd Levies soldier dies in hospital
PESHAWAR, Dec 30: A kidnapped militiaman, who survived a Taliban atrocity and was admitted to a hospital with serious injuries late on Saturday night, died on Sunday, raising the number of the slain Levies Force personnel to 22.
The nightmarish episode began early on Thursday when militants attacked posts of Levies Force in Hasankhel and Jina Kor areas of Frontier Region Peshawar. Two militiamen were killed by the attackers who overran the posts before taking away 23 personnel.
The political authorities held a jirga with tribal elders of FR Peshawar on Friday, asking them to help the government rescue the personnel by Monday.
It’s not known what action the tribal elders were able to take till the small hours of Sunday when bullet-riddled bodies of 21 personnel were found amid reports that the rest of the kidnapped men had survived the Taliban killing spree.
(According to Reuters, Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan claimed responsibility for the attacks. “We killed all the kidnapped men after a council of senior clerics gave a verdict for their execution. We didn’t make any demand for their release because we don’t spare any prisoners who are caught during fighting,” he said.)
By Sunday evening, bodies of 21 Levies men were handed over to their families and funeral prayers were offered in their respective areas.
Sources said the kidnapped Levies men had been gunned down by the Taliban in Jabba Hasankhel area of FR Peshawar.
The administration came to know about the killing when one of the kidnapped personnel, identified as Usman Sher, escaped the shooting and managed to reach the security authorities.
How Usman Sher was able to survive remains unclear because security forces did not allow anyone to speak to him.
Amanullah, the other militiaman surviving the Taliban shooting, was found in critical condition near the bodies and was admitted to Lady Reading Hospital where he underwent a surgery. Doctors tried to save his life but he was pronounced dead in the evening. They said Amanullah had received a bullet in his head.
When asked what steps the government had taken for the release of the Levies men, Assistant Coordination Officer for Peshawar Habibullah Arif said a jirga had been held with the elders of respective areas on Friday to make efforts for getting the personnel released in accordance with the tribal custom. “We had given time to elders till 10am, Monday, to meet again and update the efforts for recovery,” he said.
Agencies add: Mr Arif said the Levies Force personnel “were lined up and shot in the head”.
Another official said the security men had their hands tied with rope before they were shot.
“We found 21 bullet-riddled bodies of security personnel… in an uninhabited area,” local government official Naveed Akbar said.
“One was found alive but wounded and admitted to hospital while another managed to escape unhurt.”
Mr Akbar said the Levies men were killed after the breakdown of negotiations between the jirga and the Taliban.