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Pakistan army chief orders inquiry into execution video

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kayani promises "strictest possible disciplinary action"
  • Video shows men in army uniforms fatally shooting a group of men
  • CNN has not been able to verfiy the authenticity of the video

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The head of Pakistan's army has ordered an inquiry into a video that showed the execution of blindfolded and bound civilians by men clad in army uniforms.

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said he would take "the strictest possible disciplinary action" if the shooters are found to be Pakistani soldiers, the military said Friday.

But he cautioned against a rush to judgment, saying that militants have, in some cases, disguised themselves as soldiers during attacks to "hide their identities, cause confusion and malign" the army, according to a statement from the military's Inter Services Public Relations department.

The video, which surfaced on YouTube last week, shows what looks like a unit of Pakistani soldiers lining up a group of men, wearing blindfolds and with their hands bound behind their backs.

At one point, a soldier approaches them and speaks briefly in Urdu.

Then the soldiers open fire with rifles.

As the five-minute video continues, the audio suggests some of the victims are still alive.

One soldier approaches the victims and shoots again..

CNN has not been able to verify whether the video is of an actual event, or when and where it was shot.

Retired Pakistani Army Lieutenant General Talat Masood said the video could be authentic -- judging from the uniforms, the weapons and the posture of those men in the army uniforms.

"Most probably we have to assume that there is some level of credibility and then go for it and then do a thorough investigation," he said last week.

Human rights groups have frequently accused Pakistani security forces of extrajudicial killings, especially in the military's anti-Taliban offensives in Swat and South Waziristan.

Pakistan's Human Rights Commission has said such killings are not condoned by the military leadership.

But the group's head said the military must crack down on anyone involved in human rights abuses, or risk losing support of people in areas formerly held by the Taliban.

"It can demolish the image of the armed forces who are appreciated by the people who were under siege by the terrorists for a long time," said Mehdi Hassan.

The Pentagon said it was aware of the video, but "it's an issue for the Pakistanis to both look into it and deal with."

CNN's Fred Pleitgen contributed to this report.

 
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