Residents and human rights groups have called for an investigation
The bodies of 22 suspected militants have been found in Pakistan’s Swat valley in the past day, officials say.
Corpses allegedly began appearing several weeks ago. Officials said 18 were found in the region last week.
Local residents say the Pakistani security forces have been carrying out extra-judicial killings as part of their offensive against the Taliban.
The army and police have denied the accusations, saying locals could be behind the killings for “revenge”.
A leading Pakistani human rights watchdog says it has received “credible reports of numerous extra-judicial killings and reprisals carried out by security forces”.
“We call for a proper investigation to find out who killed them, who were the dead, whether they were militants, innocent people or bystander,” I A Rehman, of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told the Reuters news agency.
“We’ve already demanded an investigation but nothing has happened. It’s a serious matter and must be looked into,” he said.
Three bodies were found in the Danagram area on the outskirts of Swat’s central town of Mingora on Tuesday morning, a security official told BBC Urdu, bringing the total number discovered in the past day to 22.
He said the victims had not yet been identified.
On Monday, local officials said 19 corpses had been recovered from areas around the Malam Jabba road, north 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.
“Previously we were afraid of the Taliban. Now, we’re afraid of the army,” one man told the Associated Press news agency.
Military officials have confirmed that the army has been conducting operations in areas where the bodies have been found.
A top government official in the region, Malakand division commissioner Fazal Karim Khattak, told the BBC that the appearance of the bodies had become a “puzzle”.
But he rejected the local view that the security forces had been killing suspected Taliban fighters extra-judicially after detaining them.
The army has been operating in areas where the bodies have been found
“I have recommended to the provincial government to hold an inquiry into the circumstances that have led to these deaths,” he said.
A military spokesman, Maj Gen Athar Abbas, said he believed the killings could have been the “result of revenge by local people”.
“It could be a reaction to all that happened to the people in Swat,” he said.
While the Taliban controlled the valley, militants dumped bodies of alleged collaborators on the streets to terrify people into submission, correspondents say.
Officials say people have been discovering unidentified bodies dumped in the Swat valley since mid-July, when internal refugees who had fled the area in April in the wake of the army offensive returned.
According to one estimate, more than 120 corpses have been found in total. Other officials believe the figure could be as high as 200.
Swatis not concerned
Similar killings took place when the Taliban moved into the valley in 2007, eventually controlling much of the one-time tourist retreat. Then, militants killed police officers or alleged government collaborators, often beheading or stringing up the bodies of their victims in public. So many decapitated bodies were left in Mingora’s main square that it was nicknamed “bloody square”.
The militants also banned girls from school, flogged women in public, closed music and video shops and ordered men to grow their beards in line with their interpretation of Islamic rules.
The army launched a major offensive in April this year, causing two million people to flee the fighting. Pakistani forces claim to have killed more than 1,600 militants – including a key Taliban commander, Baitullah Mehsud. But while the insurgents have been pushed back, they have not gone away completely. Last week, Mingora was hit by two suicide blasts.
Most Swat residents interviewed by the media said they were unconcerned if Taliban militants were being killed, saying that they felt no pity for those who had brought terror and misery to the region and that the killings might be what was needed to stop the insurgents returning. Others, however, said they now feared the army.
“Previously we were afraid of the Taliban. Now, we’re afraid of the army,” one man told the Associated Press, at the site where the bodies of two people, 35-year-old butcher Gohar Ullah and his brother Zahoor, 30, were found last Friday.
Tailpiece: Court orders release of Sufi Muhammad’s sons:
مولانا صوفی کے بیٹوں کی رہائی کا حکم
مولانا صوفی محمد اس وقت قید میں ہیں اور انہیں بغاوت کے مقدمے کا سامنا ہے
پشاور ہائی کورٹ نے حکومت کی جانب سے ٹھوس ثبوت فراہم نہ کرنے پر مولانا صوفی محمد کے تین بیٹوں کی رہائی کا حکم دیا ہے۔
ان تینوں کو بائیس جولائی کو پشاور سے تین ایم پی او ( نقص امن میں خلل ) کی دفعہ کے تحت گرفتار کیا گیا تھا۔
بدھ کے روز پشاور ہائی کورٹ کے جج جسٹس اعجاز افضل خان نے حکومت کی جانب سے مولانا صوفی محمد کی تین بیٹوں رضوان اللہ، حیات اللہ اور فضل اللہ کی گرفتاری کے حوالے سے ٹھوس ثبوت فراہم نہ کیے جانے پر تینوں کی رہائی کا حکم دیا ہے۔
خیال رہے کہ گزشتہ ماہ پولیس اور خفیہ اداروں کے اہلکاروں نے پشاور کے علاقے سٹی ٹاؤن میں واقع مولانا صوفی محمد کے گھر پر چھاپہ مارا تھا اور انہیں ان کے بیٹوں سمیت حراست میں لے لیا تھا۔
مولانا صوفی محمد کے تینوں بیٹوں نے اپنی گرفتاری کو پشاور ہائی کورٹ میں چیلنج کر رکھاتھا۔
اسی ماہ تین اگست کو صوبہ سرحد کی حکومت نے کالعدم تحریک نفاذ شریعتِ محمدی کے سربراہ مولانا صوفی محمد سمیت نو افراد کے خلاف بغاوت کا مقدمہ درج کیا تھا۔سرحد حکومت کے ترجمان میاں افتخار حسین نے کہا تھا کہ مو لانا صوفی محمد نے حکومت سے کیے گئے وعدوں سے انحراف کیا جس سے مالاکنڈ ڈویژن میں دہشت گردوں کو تقویت ملی۔