Remains of 16 coal miners kidnapped in Khyber nearly a decade ago found in mass grave

Published April 9, 2021
Families of the slain miners and local political leaders stand next to their coffins in Dara Adamkhel on Friday. — Photo by author
Families of the slain miners and local political leaders stand next to their coffins in Dara Adamkhel on Friday. — Photo by author

The remains of 16 coal miners abducted by unidentified assailants in the former Khyber Agency nearly a decade ago were recovered from a mass grave in the area on Friday, an official said.

On Sept 9, 2011, as they were working their routine night shift in a coal mine of the Kala Khel area in Khyber Agency, 32 workers were forcibly taken away by armed men. Of these, 16 miners managed to escape over the next months, while the other 16 remained missing.

The 32 miners belonged to the Shangla district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Efforts to trace the abducted workers remained unsuccessful for nearly 10 years until their bodies were found today in a mass grave discovered at Toor Sapawar Pastawana area of KP's Khyber tribal district.

Weeks after the kidnapping, sources had told Dawn that the miners' captors had refused to release them even if ransom was paid.

Militants had demanded Rs1.5 million for release of the kidnapped workers and the local committee had agreed to pay the amount but later the kidnappers refused to release the labourers so the money was not paid, a tribal elder said at the time.

“Militants have threatened to kill the kidnapped labourers if government initiates any operation against them in the region,” he added.

Sarfaraz Khan, a spokesperson for the Shangla Coalmine Workers Association, said they reached Toor Sapawar Pastawana accompanied by political leaders after receiving information about the discovery of a mass grave on Thursday. A rescue operation was subsequently launched as rescuers dug up the grave.

Rescue workers initially recovered the remains of six miners, before finding 10 other bodies.

Khan said the miners appeared to have been killed soon after their abduction; some of their bodies were identified through their clothes, while some were recognisable through their physical features.

A mass funeral will be held on Saturday for the miners whose remains were recovered today, the SCMWA spokesperson added.

Opinion

Editorial

Little respite
03 Mar, 2024

Little respite

IS inflation on its way out? The Consumer Price Index showed that inflation dropped to 23.1pc in February from ...
More slaughter
Updated 03 Mar, 2024

More slaughter

Israel’s extremist leaders are on an apocalyptic mission to ethnically cleanse Gaza.
Without VCs
03 Mar, 2024

Without VCs

THE delay in appointing vice chancellors across Pakistan’s universities has mushroomed into a crisis, with one...
Urgent challenge
Updated 02 Mar, 2024

Urgent challenge

The incoming finance team will have to prioritise economic decisions over political considerations and personal whims.
Contempt ruling
02 Mar, 2024

Contempt ruling

AN Islamabad High Court decision penalising the city’s deputy commissioner, a senior superintendent of police and ...
Streets of death
02 Mar, 2024

Streets of death

A LIFE without a sense of permanence is one aspect of a human crisis as complex as homelessness. But the fact that...