HR group hopes Kayani-ordered 'execution by soldiers' probe 'not a mere sham'

Islamabad, Oct 8 (ANI): A HR group has expressed the hope that Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani's probe into the video clips that show men in soldiers' uniforms gunning down a group of bound and blindfolded detainees, would not turn out to be a sham perpetrated to assuage international concerns, as in the past.

"It is not expected of a professional army to engage in excesses against the people whom it is trying to guard against the scourge of terrorism," the Dawn quoted Kayani, as saying in a statement.

An inquiry board would be set up, headed by a major general and two to three senior officers having experience in investigating such incidents, said the statement, without giving a deadline for the investigation.

The video footage, apparently shot by cell phones, was grainy and showed no time stamps, the statement noted, adding that a part of the army inquiry's mission was to determine whether those shown in uniform were actually soldiers, as in the past, there had been cases of militants posing as soldiers.

However, rights activists noted that past army inquiries into alleged extra-judicial killings and abuses had held no one accountable.

"We hope that this will in fact be a meaningful inquiry and not a sham perpetrated to assuage international concerns," said Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch, talking about the latest probe.

The two clips have been circulating on the Internet, though it remains unclear where the clips were first posted. The SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based organisation that monitors militant websites, reported about two weeks ago that they had appeared on an extremist site.

The group said they were posted by someone who claimed that the footage was from Pakistan's Swat Valley, the scene of a major army offensive against Taliban militants in 2009.

The longer clip lasts five minutes and 39 seconds and shows what appears to be a group of Pakistani soldiers, fully armed and in uniform, guiding the blindfolded men to a wooded area in front of a wall and lining them up next to one another. They are then shot.

A voice is heard saying "finish them one by one". A soldier then walks over to the men and shoots them again.

The second clip lasts 53 seconds and shows only the executions.

The Pakistani army has consistently denied accusations of carrying out extra-judicial killings in Swat ever since launching the offensive in May 2009. (ANI)

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