Pakistani Taliban admit kidnapping two Chinese engineers (Lead, Changing Dateline)

September 2nd, 2008 - 8:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Sep 2 (DPA) Taliban militants in Pakistan Tuesday claimed they have abducted two Chinese engineers in the northwest region of the country.”They are right now in our custody. We kidnapped them to avenge Pakistani government’s constant bombardment and shelling on innocent civilians and our colleagues,” a Taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, told DPA.

The engineers were abducted together with their local driver and a security guard when they were returning from the neighbouring district of Dir Friday after repairing a communications tower of China Mobile Pakistan Company.

“Our advisory council is soon going to hold a meeting in which the matter of these Chinese engineers will be presented. The council will decide what to do with these people,” said Khan.

“They are in good health and enjoying our hospitality. Neither Pakistani nor Chinese government has contacted us for their release,” he added.

The spokesman said the abduction was in response to last year’s military operation in Islamabad’s Red Mosque.

The government of former president Pervez Musharraf ordered the operation July 10, 2007, days after the extremist students of the Islamic seminary adjoining the mosque abducted some Chinese women, allegedly involved in prostitution, under their campaign to enforce Taliban rule in Islamabad.

“The government used phosphorous bombs against the innocent women and children to please the Chinese government, which protects even its prostitutes. Unfortunately, the Pakistani government is unable to take care of its citizens,” Khan said.

According to the government, more than 100 people, including 12 commandos, were killed in the military raid. But the militants said the actual number of deaths was around 3,000, mostly women and children studying at the seminary.

That provoked a wave of suicide bombings and rebellion by Islamic militants across the country, including the scenic valley of Swat, where the followers of a firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlullah launched a campaign to enforce Taliban rule in the region.

Islamabad dispatched more than 20,000 troops to Swat to quell Fazlullah’s revolt in October, and the continuing battles have killed hundreds of people so far.

Earlier this year, the new civilian government opened peace talks with Swat militants in March and a month later reached a peace agreement with them. But the accord did not bring about peace in the region, and the government resumed military operations.

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