Asia

Bodies displayed in Pakistan extra-judicial killings protest

Protesters outside government offices in Peshawar on 16 January 2013 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The protesters want an end to military operations and the withdrawal of a five-year curfew

Hundreds of protesters in north-west Pakistan have displayed the bodies of at least 14 people who they say are victims of extra-judicial killings outside government offices in Peshawar.

Correspondents say such tactics in demonstrations are rare.

But they reflect increasing anger among families over the killings.

Villagers say that the deaths occurred late on Tuesday in the Khyber Agency - a tribal region where the army has been fighting Islamic militants.

An official with the Frontier Constabulary denied any involvement in the killings and said it was militants who had attacked the homes.

But human rights groups and residents claim the operations carried out by the army in their search for militants frequently cause civilian casualties.

"They entered our houses and killed our relatives to avenge the killing of six security personnel in the same area of Bara on Monday night," Shabbir, a former Frontier Corps paramilitary, told the AFP news agency.

'Dark night'

The protesters shouted anti-military slogans and called on the army to end its operations in the Bara area. One sign written in Urdu read: "We are also Pakistanis. Don't kill us."

The demonstrators also called on the government to stop military operations in their area, withdraw a five-year-old curfew and compensate victims.

"There is a dark night in Khyber Agency," protester Gulajab Afridi told Reuters news agency.

"There is no-one to check the barbarism of the Frontier Corps against local people. Our blood is worth nothing."

He said that villagers were trapped between the military and the militants.

Villagers say that while Lashkar-e-Islam militants want them to stay in their homes and not vacate their villages, the security forces arrest them on suspicion of supporting militants.

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