WANA, Oct 4: Mutilated bodies of three of the soldiers kidnapped in South Waziristan on August 30 were found in the adjacent Frontier Region of Jandola on Thursday.
Army spokesman Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad termed the killing of the soldiers a ‘cowardly and barbaric act’.
“This is a terrorist act and the perpetrators will not go unpunished,” he told Dawn from Islamabad. He said security forces were assessing the situation and would take action in keeping with the new development.
Over 250 security forces personnel, including eight officers, had been made hostage in the Momi Karam area of South Waziristan by militants of the Baitullah Mehsud group. After some time, 31 soldiers were freed as a ‘goodwill gesture’.
The killings followed a Wednesday warning from a spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud that the militants would start slaughtering the soldiers if security forces did not stop their operation in Tank. He had warned that three soldiers would be killed every day.
Sources said the soldiers’ bodies had been thrown near a road in Jandola early on Thursday morning. Quoting eyewitnesses, they said the soldiers’ limbs and heads had been chopped off.
Personnel of the Khasaddar Force found the bodies and informed the local authorities. The bodies were later handed over to the military authorities.
The sources said a note found near the bodies warned that more soldiers would be killed if the operation in the tribal area was not stopped.
The victims were identified as Khizer Hayat, Tariq and Mohammad Ikhlaq, belonging to Khushab, Dera Ghazi Khan and Khairpur, respectively.
Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad said security forces had exercised maximum restraint and given enough time to the tribal jirga and the local administration to get the soldiers released through negotiations.
“The government does not want to harm the peace-loving people in the tribal area, but now it is necessary to take some steps.” He said the local administration had taken action under the Frontier Crimes Regulation.