The Pakistan government called off peace talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP -- the local faction of the Afghan Taliban -- after a government committee reported the execution of 23 paramilitary soldiers who were being held in captivity since 2010.
"We captured [the soldiers] in June 2010, and we killed all 23 soldiers," Umar Khurasani, TTP's Mohmand Agency spokesman, said according to Al Jazeera. "We are going to decide whether to be part of these talks or not."
On Monday night, according to a report by Agence France-Presse, the group killed yet another soldier during an attack on an army check post, hours after the government canceled the talks.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif had announced last month that a round of talks would be held on Feb. 17, amid speculation about the country’s plan to launch a major ground- and air-attack on areas in western Pakistan, which is the Taliban's stronghold. According to Reuters, people following the country’s moves have been skeptical about the success of the peace talks, and if they would ever work while the Taliban is working to bring down the government and bring Shariah law to Pakistan.
The group, which has killed more than 40,000 people since 2007, according to Reuters, has killed more than 100 people since the beginning of discussions about the peace talks on Feb. 6. But, with the latest killings, the government reportedly feels that there is “no use” for such meetings.
"Such incidents have an extremely negative impact on the ongoing dialogue aimed at promoting peace," Sharif reportedly said on Monday, adding that Pakistan "cannot afford such bloodshed." He also stated that previous attempts to start dialog were "sabotaged whenever it reached an encouraging stage," Al Jazeera reported.
The TTP’s spokespersons have suggested that the soldiers' executions were in retaliation to government forces killing its members. Meanwhile, news reports suggest that the TTP's attack on an army check post could lead the government to launch a military attack in the area of South Waziristan, where many al Qaeda militants are also based.