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Updated: February 19, 2011 19:41 IST

Hakimullah Mehsud claims killing ex-ISI man

PTI
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A file photo of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud. AP.
A file photo of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud. AP.

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud appeared in a video issued by militants on Saturday to claim responsibility for killing former a former ISI official, kidnapped in the Waziristan tribal region last year.

Militant spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan, in a message sent to PTI, accepted responsibility for the killing of Colonel Imam on behalf of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. He said the militants had released a video that showed the killing and contained a message from Mehsud.

Col. Imam was widely respected by the Afghan Taliban for his role in the Afghan Jihad against Soviet forces during 1979-89. He had described himself as the “teacher” of Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Muhammad Omar in several interviews.

Clips from the video aired on TV news channels showed Mehsud, flanked by two armed men, standing behind Colonel Imam as he sat on the ground.

“The video will show Taliban fighters firing at Colonel Imam...Colonel Imam is no more in this world,” Ahsan told the news channels.

This was the first time that the Pakistani Taliban admitted that Colonel Imam had been in their custody.

Earlier, the hitherto unheard of Asian Tigers had claimed responsibility for kidnapping the former ISI official in March last year.

The family of the veteran intelligence officer has said it had received reports about his death but there was no confirmation from any independent source.

The Pakistani media had reported last month that Colonel Imam was executed by the Asian Tigers in North Waziristan Agency after authorities turned down its demands for his release.

The abductors had reportedly demanded Rs 50 million and the release of some jailed militants for Colonel Imam’s freedom.

Colonel Imam was kidnapped with another former ISI official, Khalid Khwaja, and Asad Qureshi, a British journalist of Pakistani origin, in Waziristan last year.

Qureshi was released in September after paying a ransom of Rs 20 million while Khwaja was executed by his captors in April 2010.

The Asian Tigers had accused Khwaja of spying for the CIA. Analysts believe the kidnappers were a group of militants from the Mehsud tribe and Punjabi Taliban rebels led by Sabir Mahsud and Usman Punjabi.

Col. Imam had served as Pakistan’s consul general in the western Afghan city of Herat after the installation of a Taliban government in Kabul.

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