Pakistan Taliban kill 15 kidnapped tribal police


Fifteen members of a tribal security force have been found shot dead in a volatile area of Pakistan's north-west, officials say.

The men were abducted last month near North Waziristan, a Taliban stronghold.

A Taliban spokesman told the BBC the killings were to avenge an army offensive in a neighbouring area.

The killings come amid reports that Taliban factions have agreed to halt attacks on Pakistani forces in order to focus on US-led troops in Afghanistan.

The men's bodies were found in the Spin Tall area of North Waziristan on Thursday morning, local residents told the BBC. They were members of the Frontier Constabulary, a provincial police force that operates in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told the BBC that the killing of 12 Taliban fighters during an army operation on 31 December in the Khyber tribal district prompted the militants to kill the men they were holding.

They had been kidnapped in a Taliban raid on a check post in the town of Tank near North Waziristan a week earlier.

'Harsh consequences'

The Taliban spokesman added that the government had taken a "very dangerous, un-Islamic and unethical step" by capturing the female family members of the militants killed in the 31 December offensive in Khyber.

"We warned them to release them as soon as possible otherwise consequences will be very harsh but unfortunately they turned a deaf ear to our warning," he wrote in an email to the BBC.

He also warned of further attacks to retaliate against a military operation launched in northern parts of Balochistan province recently.

The violence also comes amid media speculation that there have been peace talks between elements of the Taliban and the Pakistani government.

The Pakistani Taliban is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and security personnel over the past few years, but there has not been a major militant attack in the country for several months.

The army has several anti-militant operations ongoing in the tribal areas close to the Afghan border.

The US has put pressure Pakistan to step up the fight against those militants in north-west Pakistan who launch attacks in Afghanistan, and in recent months has accused parts of Pakistan's security establishment of backing such insurgents.

Pakistan has vehemently denied the charges, adding that the country faces significant internal threats from militancy.