Two kidnapped Sikhs rescued in Khyber
Two kidnapped Sikhs rescued in Khyber Monday, 01 Mar, 2010: Dawn.com
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani security forces on Monday recovered [alive] two of three Sikhs kidnapped for ransom in the country's volatile northwest, a security official said, days after the body of the third Sikh [who had been killed] was found.
The three Sikhs were abducted from the Khyber region on the Afghan border in January. The decapitated body of one of them [Jaspal Singh] was found last week.
Government forces launched an operation early on Monday and rescued the remaining two Sikhs.
“Some terrorists have also been killed in the fighting,” a security official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.
Sikhs are a tiny minority in predominantly Muslim Pakistan, but a sizeable community has lived in Khyber and elsewhere in the northwest. Most of them run private businesses.
Khyber has long been a den for criminal syndicates involved in kidnapping, smuggling, drug trafficking and car-jackings.
Criminals are also believed to have established links with militants in recent years.
Three militants were also killed in a shootout with security forces near the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border, while the bodies of five militants were found in the northwestern Swat region on Monday, security officials said.
Kidnapped Sikhs recovered in Pakistan: military
Kidnapped Sikhs recovered in Pakistan: military (AFP) – 1 March 2010
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Two Sikhs kidnapped for ransom in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border were recovered alive Monday and are under the protection of Pakistani soldiers, the military said.
In a statement it said that security forces had recovered the two between the Orakzai and Khyber districts in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt, after they were abducted by "terrorists" in Khyber.
The tribal belt has been branded an Al-Qaeda headquarters by Washington.
The army said "some miscreants" were killed in Monday's encounter, but released no further details of the circumstances in which the Sikhs were freed.
The two Sikhs were part of a trio snatched by gunmen in hopes of receiving a ransom in the town of Bara in late January, officials said.
The third Sikh, Jaspal Singh, was beheaded after relatives failed to pay a ransom. His body was found dumped in Orakzai last month.
Pakistan's Sikh and Hindu communities are tiny. In the last year, hundreds have fled their homes after receiving death threats from the Taliban and other militant groups in the increasingly unstable northwest.
Most Sikhs and Hindus living in Khyber pay annual protection to the local militant group Lashkar-e-Islam, a Sikh community member has said, blaming the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for the beheading.
TTP has become the most dangerous militant group operating in Pakistan, where a wave of suicide and other bomb attacks carried out by Islamist militants have killed more than 3,000 people since July 2007.
Two Sikhs rescued during operation
Two Sikhs rescued during operation: Associated Press of Pakistan, 1 March 2010
PESHAWAR, March 01 (APP): Pakistan Security forces have rescued the two abducted Sikhs during an operation conducted in the border area between Khyber and Aurakzai agencies, said In-charge ISPR NWFP Col. Nadeem.
He told APP that the operation was conducted on a tip off of the intelligence sources. The operation was conducted in accessible areas between Khyber and Aurakzai agencies, he explained. Surjeet Singh and Gurvinder singh are safe and sound, he added. He said that many terrorists have been killed in the operation, the details of which would be issued by the ISPR soon.
The Sikhs were kidnapped for ransom. It is pertinent to mention here that one of the colleagues of the abducted Sikh Jaspal Singh was killed by the abductors few days back.The news of the killing of the Sikh had drawn world wide attention in the media.