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Questions over Taliban murders raised: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 10, 2010 p 5. September 14, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Terrorism.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Reports that three American Christian aid workers were murdered by the Taliban last month in Pakistan’s Swat Valley are untrue, Church World Service reports.

On Aug 27 the Compass Direct news service reported that the aid workers had been abducted on Aug 23.  Citing the District Coordination Officer (DCO) for Swat, Atif-ur-Rehman, the news service reported three bodies were recovered on Aug 25.

“Military sources who withheld news of the deaths from electronic and print media to avoid panicking other relief workers granted permission to Compass to publish it in limited form,” Compass Direct said.  It also quoted Rizwan Paul, described as the head of a Pakistani Christian human rights advocacy group called Life for All, as saying the dead had been taken to Islamabad by the army.

The following day the BosNewsLife news service  reported that three “American Christian aid workers” had been killed.  Citing army sources, BosNewsLife reported the bodies had been taken to the US Embassy in Islamabad.  The names of the dead had not been released so as to avoid “panic” among the foreign aid community.

It cited an unnamed Pakistani military source as saying the bodies of the three had been taken to the U.S. Embassy. The source said the names of the victims and their organization had not been released so as “not to create panic” among other foreign aid workers.

However Church World Service last week issued a statement saying, “the local government, military commanders and police officials have informed our security team that this a baseless news report. All the names of the officials mentioned are fake and similarly no organisation called Life For All has been working in Swat area.”

It noted the Taliban had threatened Christian and foreign aid workers in the past, “so this is a sensitive issue.”

A spokesman for the  US Embassy has also denied receiving the bodies of dead aid workers and has not been notified of the kidnapping of murder of any US nationals.

Speaking to CNS on Sept 1, Mr. Paul said asserted that three foreign aid workers had been killed, but the government was covering up the murders.  “Pakistan military and other sources are trying their best to stop the news from getting out,” he said.

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