More bodies in Pakistani valley

The bodies of 30 suspected militants have been found in Pakistan’s Swat valley, local people say.

The bodies all have gunshot wounds and local residents say they are believed to be of militants from Bajnot and other areas near the town of Mingora.

Corpses began appearing several weeks ago and more than 150 have been found in the region over the past month.

Security forces deny carrying out extra-judicial killings as part of their anti-Taliban offensive.

An army spokesman in Mingora told the BBC that the men were killed in army operation that has been going on in the Charbagh region for the past three days.

Some local residents, however, say bodies are discovered whenever there is an attack against the army or the police.

On Sunday, at least 14 police recruits were killed in a suicide attack in Mingora.

Disguised as a recruit, the suspected bomber walked into a police base where the cadets were being trained.

The attack was the deadliest in the area since the recent Pakistani army offensive there which officials said had driven out Taliban militants.

‘Blindfolded’

Last week, 22 bodies were found on the outskirts of Mingora.

Witnesses said most of the victims had been shot, some several times. They were blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs, and dumped in fields or alleys.

Military officials confirmed that the army had been conducting operations in areas where the bodies were found.

Pakistani troops in Mingora (15 August 2009)

The army has been operating in areas where the bodies have been found

But officials rejected claims the security forces had been killing suspected Taliban fighters extra-judicially after detaining them.

The military suggested the killings could have been carried out in revenge by locals.

While the Taliban controlled the valley, militants dumped bodies of alleged collaborators on the streets.

Officials say people have been discovering unidentified bodies dumped in the Swat valley since mid-July, when people who fled the area in April in the wake of the army offensive returned.

Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission has called for an investigation into “credible reports of numerous extra-judicial killings and reprisals carried out by security forces”.

At the beginning of this year, the Pakistani government reached a peace deal with the Taliban, under which the militants were supposed to disarm in exchange for the implementation of Sharia law throughout the Malakand division, which includes the Swat valley.

But fighting erupted in April after the Taliban expanded their operations into districts only 96km (60 miles) from the capital, Islamabad, and the army accused them of reneging on the pact.

As the fighting intensified some two million people were displaced. Many of those started returning home in July after the army said it had largely secured the valley. Isolated skirmishes are continuing.

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