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ASIA > Taliban intimidates Pakistan with video

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Former Taliban fighters display their weapons as they join Afghan forces during a ceremony in Herat. The Pakistani Taliban raided Pakistan’s army posts recently.

Former Taliban fighters display their weapons as they join Afghan forces during a ceremony in Herat. The Pakistani Taliban raided Pakistan’s army posts recently.

The Taliban released a video on June 27 that they say shows the heads of 17 Pakistani soldiers captured in a cross-border raid from Afghanistan this week and beheaded.

The Pakistani Taliban’s bloody cross-border raid last weekend showed the threat still posed by the group, despite multiple army offensives. Increasingly, the militants have used sanctuaries in eastern Afghanistan to attack border areas in Pakistan’s northwest.

Pakistan has criticized NATO and Afghan forces for not doing enough to stop the attacks, but it has received little sympathy. The Afghan government and its allies have long faulted Pakistan for failing to target Afghan Taliban militants and their allies who use Pakistani territory to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban are allies, but the former has focused on fighting the Pakistani government, while the latter has concentrated on attacking foreign and local forces in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban said in the video that they killed 18 soldiers, but 17 heads were displayed on a bloody white sheet on the ground outside. Several militants whose faces were covered were standing around the heads, holding weapons they said were captured from the soldiers.

The beginning of the video contains a voice recording by Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in which he says the militants will continue to battle the army until Pakistan’s government stops supporting the U.S. and enforces Islamic law throughout the country. It was unclear when the message was recorded.

The Pakistani military said previously that 13 troops were killed in the cross-border raid into the country’s northwest Upper Dir region, and seven of them were beheaded. Four others were reported missing at the time. The Pakistani government has encouraged locals to form militias to fight the Taliban, but many members have been killed by militants. The recent attacks have come during serious political instability in Pakistan.

 The Supreme Court forced former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to step down last week and expected the new prime minister to comply with the court’s order to reopen the corruption case against Zardari.

June/29/2012

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