Taliban execute 21 paramilitary men

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Peshawar, Pakistan - Pakistani Taliban militants have executed 21 paramilitary force men who were captured in attacks on their posts late last week, government officials said on Sunday.

The men, who were kidnapped on Friday in attacks on three checkpoints near the city of Peshawar, were lined up before being shot one-by-one, officials said.

“They were tied up and blindfolded,” Naveed Anwar, a senior administration official in the Khyber region, said by telephone.

One man was badly wounded but survived, Anwar said, adding that the 21 bodies had been found after local tribesmen notified security services.

“They were lined up and shot in the head,” said Habibullah Arif, another local official. He said the wounded man and another man had managed to escape.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility and pledged to carry out further attacks on Pakistani security forces.

“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,” said Ihsanullah Ihsan.

The men were from a paramilitary force recruited from members of ethnic Pashtun tribes in northwestern Pakistan. The militias support the government in its efforts against Islamist militants battling the state.

The killing of the men followed two high-profile attacks in Peshawar this month. Suicide bombers attacked Peshawar's airport on Dec. 15 and a bomb killed a senior Pashtun nationalist politician and eight other people at a rally on December 22.

The violence underscores the Taliban's ability to carry out high-profile attacks in major cities even as the amount of territory they control has shrunk over the past three years. - Reuters

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