Pakistan accused of extra-judicial killings in US-backed Swat attack

The Pakistani army is facing fresh accusations of carrying out extra-judicial killings and torture on local people in US-backed Swat offensive.

Pakistan accused of extra-judicial killings in US-backed Swat attack

The Pakistani army is facing fresh accusations of carrying out extra-judicial killings and torture on local people in US-backed Swat offensive.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had briefed U.S. State Department and congressional officials about mounting evidence of more than 200 summary executions in US-backed Swat operation in the past eight months of suspected Taliban sympathizers.

Human Rights Watch said the Army was targeting civilians who had voiced support for the Taliban when they controlled Swat or were suspected of providing them food or shelter.

"People are taken away, and sometimes they turn up a few days or weeks later having been tortured. Sometimes they disappear. Sometimes their body is dumped with a bullet in the head," Malinowski said.

He also described cases of illegal detention.

"A son has gone off to fight with the Taliban, and so another son is taken as a hostage," he said. "And the father is told: We will release son No. 2 when son No. 1 turns himself in."

The Lahore-based Human Rights Commission of Pakistan provided a list of 249 suspected extra-judicial killings from July 30, 2009, to March 22, 2010, saying most of the bodies were found in Swat. It said independent journalists and locals widely believed security forces were behind them.

"Denial"

Pakistan's army denied the group's accusations of abuse in Swat, home to about 1.3 million people.

"Swat is open to journalists and you can conduct investigative reporting there," Pakistani Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told Reuters in Islamabad. "Have you seen any sort of report in Pakistani newspapers?"

Washington, which faces frequent criticism in Pakistan over CIA drone strikes, presses Pakistan to stage more operations on its own soil.

But Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said the pace of extra-judicial killings in Pakistan was "not slowing down."

The United States is obliged to enforce a law authored by Senator Patrick Leahy banning assistance to foreign military units facing credible accusations of abuses, he said.

"If they obtain or receive credible information that a particular unit is engaged in this kind of behavior, they have to de-fund the unit," Malinowski said.

Human Rights Watch is not yet able to single out any units for the abuses, which also include illegal detention, he said.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Nisan 2010, 15:26

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