Two detained aides of a radical Islamic cleric in Pakistan were killed
early Saturday when a military convoy carrying prisoners hit a roadside
bomb and came under fire in the northwest of the country. The Pakistani
military says it is possible the prisoners were the target of the
As soon as news of the attack was reported, there was
speculation among Pakistan political analysts and reporters that the
prisoners - Muhammad Alam and Ameer Izzat - were killed to prevent them
from being interrogated.
Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told reporters on Saturday he could neither confirm nor deny the speculation.
won't rule out that, whether they were targeted or killed on purpose.
But there could be a possibility of that. But there are a number of
daily IED [improvised explosive device] incidents in this area, so
maybe this was a targeting the military convoy because the signature is
very huge. Where ever the military convoy is moving, the signature is
huge," he said.
Abbas said the prisoners were provided as much
security as possible given the circumstances of the region and the
resources of the army.
"We cannot ensure complete security or
complete protection of the entire area. And we do not have the kind of
equipment which can completely ensure the jamming of the complete area
against the IED attacks. So these are common incidents in the area in
which our soldiers and officers are also losing lives," he said.
prisoners were arrested Thursday. Their leader, Sufi Mohammed, was also
reported to have been detained this week, but the military denied that
report. Mohammed negotiated the failed agreement with the government
to impose strict Islamic law in Swat, which was criticized as a
capitulation to Pakistan's extremists.
The capture of Alam and
Izzat was heralded as good news from Pakistan's security forces, who
have claimed key gains in their month-long effort to eject Taliban
militants from the region.
But Abbas said that total victory
in Swat could only be declared when top Taliban leaders have been
killed - something that has not yet happened.