Taliban militants behead 12 Pakistani soldiers
The Taliban's claim came hours after the Pakistan acknowledged that 15 of its soldiers went missing three days ago.
Islamabad: Pakistani Taliban have beheaded 12 soldiers captured during a recent attack on a security check post in the restive Bajaur tribal region and released a video showing their severed heads, a militant spokesman said on Friday.
Sirajuddin, a spokesman for the Swat chapter of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, told reporters in the country's northwest by phone that the militants had released a video showing the severed heads of the soldiers.
The Pakistan Army says Sirajuddin is operating from Pakistan and speaks for Mullah Fazlullah, the former commander of the Taliban in Swat Valley who is now believed to be based in a border region of Afghanistan.
Journalist Enayat Saafi in Kunar province of Afghanistan said he had seen the video, which shows the bullet-riddled and beheaded bodies of the Pakistani soldiers. He said on phone that the soldiers were beheaded after being shot.
Sirajuddin said the Taliban in Bajaur Agency had killed the "infidel soldiers of Pakistan". The Taliban video showed a militant commander flanked by several armed men, including one wielding a large axe.
The Taliban's claim came hours after the Pakistan Army acknowledged that 15 of its soldiers went missing three days ago after clashes with the Taliban in Batwar area of Bajaur Agency, which borders Afghanistan.
Clashes in Batwar area between Taliban militants and Pakistani forces began a week ago. The Pakistan Army has said that troops have killed nearly 60 Taliban fighters, a claim disputed by Sirajuddin.
The army had earlier confirmed that six soldiers were killed during six days of fighting in Batwar. Several members of pro-government tribal militia were also killed in the clashes. Local residents said hundreds of families had fled the area over the past few days.
Sirajuddin claimed the militants have made advances and were now fighting Pakistani forces inside the remote region.
Local residents said the army was using gunship helicopters and artillery to target militant positions in the mountains.
The army has said that several Taliban leaders fled to Afghanistan to escape military operations launched in the Swat Valley, Bajaur Agency and other tribal regions. Afghan authorities deny the claim.