Pakistan held funeral services Thursday for 15 paramilitary soldiers abducted and killed by the Taliban in the country's northwest.
A spokesman for the Islamic militant group said it killed the soldiers, kidnapped December 22 in the Tank district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in revenge for continued military operations against the militants near the Afghan border.
Local authorities found the bullet-riddled bodies of 15 members of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary early Thursday in the tribal region of North Waziristan. They said the remains showed signs of torture.
Separately, the International Committee of the Red Cross said one of its British employees has been kidnapped by unknown gunmen in southwestern Baluchistan province.
Police said the man was driving to the Red Cross office in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, Thursday when several gunmen stopped his vehicle and took him away.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the abduction, but kidnappings are common in the province, where various criminals looking for ransom money grab foreigners and locals. Baluchistan is home to various militant groups, including pro-Taliban factions, as well as Baluch militants who are fighting a separatist insurgency.
The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taliban, is a loosely organized group of insurgents that formed in 2007. Although its members mainly operate in Pakistan's tribal areas, the group is believed to have carried out routine bomb and gun attacks elsewhere in the country.
The latest incident came days after al-Qaida and Afghan Taliban leaders were reported to have asked Pakistani militants to stop targeting security forces. The request, which allegedly originated with Afghan Taliban supreme commander Mullah Omar, said that Pakistani militants should instead concentrate on battling U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan.
In recent months, various Pakistani militants and government officials have suggested that Islamabad is holding preliminary peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban and affiliated militant groups. But other officials and militant leaders have rejected the claim, and violence along the border has continued.