Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The death toll in a shootout with Pakistani Police is of 13 "Taliban terrorists". The shootout took place yesterday afternoon in Karachi, a metropolis in the South of the country; an officer from the Security Department reports that the victims belong to the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group, responsible for the massacre last week at the military school in Peshawar, in which 149 people were killed, including 133 children. The Taliban killed in the shooting, he said, wore "police uniforms."
After the shooting the agents seized weapons, suicide jackets, ball bearings and other explosives. A suspect was arrested after the incident.
Meanwhile, the Government in Islamabad announced that it will execute at least 500 terrorists, following the cancellation of the moratorium on the death penalty for "terrorism cases" after the attack in Peshawar; already six hangings have been carried out so far and 55 are to take place in the next days.
A Senior Government Official said on condition of anonymity, that the Interior Ministry has "finalized" the review of the cases of 500 defendants, who have exhausted all appeals and are now considered definitively convicted. Their mercy petitions have been rejected by the President and "their executions will take place in coming weeks."
The massacre in the military school in Peshawar, strongly condemned by the whole of society and by leaders of the Catholic Church of Pakistan, with forceful words of the Bishop of Islamabad and of the Archbishop of Karachi, has been claimed from the beginning by leaders of the TTP. The commando was composed of seven men who were killed in the attack. To prevent further attacks, the Government has deployed police, troops and paramilitary rangers in sensitive venues, such as airports, Government buildings and prisons, in view of the upcoming hangings.
Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, is calling for fast trials and the certainty of punishment, while the army has intensified an offensive - begun in June - in the northwest of the country, where there are strongholds of militant Taliban and Khyber tribal agencies in North Waziristan.
The decision of the Pakistani Prime Minister to reintroduce the death penalty has raised criticism and the concern of human rights activist groups and associations; even the United Nations has asked Islamabad to "reconsider" its decision, fearing an escalation of violence. For Human Rights Watch to the end of the moratorium is a "vile political reaction" to the killings in Peshawar and will not serve to stem the extremist drift.