PESHAWAR, April 20: Seven of the 35 tribals who were abducted in an attack on a civilian convoy in Kurram Agency last month, are feared to have been killed by their suspected militant kidnappers.

“Members of a jirga that met in Islamabad on Tuesday were told about the killing of the seven captives,” said a source privy to the first round of talks.

Bodies of the hostages killed were likely to be handed to the jirga on Thursday, according to the source.The jirga was convened to discuss ways to secure the release of the kidnapped tribals and salvage the peace agreement that two warring sects of the restive area signed recently. Both sides are represented in the jirga and stand by the agreement.

“During (the Islamabad) talks we were told about the killing of the seven but whereabouts of the remaining kidnapped persons are still unknown,” said the source.

It was believed that they were in the custody of Mullah Toofan group, an offshoot of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militant group operating in parts of Orakzai and Kurram agencies.

Armed men had attacked three passenger coaches going from Peshawar to Parachinar in Beggan, lower Kurram on March 26.

Three people were killed and two injured in the attack, while 47 were kidnapped.

Twelve women and children among them were set free the same day while 35 people, four of them belonging to Mardan district, were abducted.

Sources said that militants had demanded huge ransom for the release of the kidnapped passengers. However, they didn't disclose the ransom figure.

They said that the jirga would decide its future line of action after the recovery of the hostages. Under the peace agreement the jirga will recover Rs2 billion as fine from the tribe, which violates the accord.

The jirga comprising elders of the rival factions, parliamentarians and notables from other agencies of the tribal areas met Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar here on Wednesday evening.

However, details of the meeting could not be ascertained. An official said that statement about the meeting would be released to media on Thursday.

Prior to the meeting an elder told Dawn that the jirga would ask the governor to take action for the release of the kidnapped persons and ensure security on Thall-Parachinar Road and adjacent settled areas, where passengers had been frequently attacked in the past few weeks.

The Thall-Parachinar Road, the only route linking Kurram with the rest of the country, was reopened to traffic after the peace deal was implemented in February last.

Sources said that rival factions had agreed to deploy army on the main road and in lower Kurram. The jirga, according to sources, has agreed that paramilitary forces cannot address the situation and suggested deployment of army to stem the tide of violence.

“People of the area don't trust paramilitary forces anymore and want army troops,” said one source.

He alleged that paramilitary forces instead of providing security to people were extorting money from transporters carrying goods to Kurram at checkposts. They were involved in cross border smuggling, he alleged.

Opinion

A crisis of trust?

A crisis of trust?

Most damaging fallout of the constant demonisation of opponents by political leaders is erosion of public trust in politicians.

Editorial

An unseemly dispute
08 Aug, 2022

An unseemly dispute

THERE is clarity, but perhaps not of the kind that Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial hoped to achieve when...
Unfair on taxpayers
Updated 08 Aug, 2022

Unfair on taxpayers

Unfair move has drawn valid criticism as it coincides with drastic increase in income tax on salaried people and corporates.
Polio nightmare
08 Aug, 2022

Polio nightmare

AS if the resurgence of polio in southern KP were not enough, officials and international monitoring bodies must now...
Political stunt
Updated 07 Aug, 2022

Political stunt

The former PM is attempting to make a very expensive point with his decision to contest all 9 NA seats going up for by-election.
Monsoon emergency
07 Aug, 2022

Monsoon emergency

AS another wet weather system has entered Pakistan, and the federal government has declared a “monsoon...
Taliban’s denial
07 Aug, 2022

Taliban’s denial

THE Afghan Taliban’s recent statement denying any knowledge of the now deceased Al Qaeda chief Ayman...