PESHAWAR - Taliban militants have shot dead 21 Pakistani soldiers who were kidnapped two days ago near Peshawar, officials said late Saturday night.

“We found 21 bullet-riddled bodies of security personnel a short while ago in an uninhabited area,” local government official Naveed Akbar told AFP.

The soldiers were abducted from two government paramilitary camps outside Peshawar on Thursday and the bodies were discovered about four kilometres away.

Monitoring Desk adds: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for massacring the 21 soldiers, reported private TV channels late on Saturday night.

Officials of political administration and members of local jirga were sent to the area to retrieve the bodies. All the bodies have been identified and families of the victims have been informed about the killings. One injured soldier was shifted to Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar while the other was still reported missing.

Twenty-one of the 23 abducted soldiers were shot dead in execution style and their bodies were thrown away in Hassankhel area in FR Peshawar.

It is to be mentioned here that the slaughter came one day after TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, in a video message, expressed his willingness to hold negotiation with the government for a ceasefire but refused to surrender arms and sever links with Al-Qaeda.

On Thursday, two Levies soldiers were killed and 23 others were abducted when militants stormed three checkposts. Some 200 heavily-armed militants attacked the paramilitary checkposts in Jana Kora, Zarka and Zenati areas from different sites.

The exchange of gunfire lasted about one hour in which they killed two soldiers, wounded one and took away 23 others.

The militants had destroyed the three posts in the pre-dawn attack. The officials said that about 60 soldiers were deployed at the checkposts.

After Thursday’s attack, political administration had summoned a meeting of tribal elders from Jana Kora and Hassankhel tribes to negotiate release of the abducted troops.

The Levies is a force raised from the tribes and supported by the Pakistani government.

The killings followed a daring suicide attack on Peshawar Airport and a bombing that killed top ANP leader Bashir Bilour and eight others at a political rally earlier this month.