Taliban warns Pakistan against releasing US prisoner

The US demands that Raymond Davis be freed on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2011, 18:12 PM IST

Miranshah: The Pakistani Taliban on Sunday demanded that the country`s government execute a US official who shot dead two men in broad daylight, or hand him over to the Islamist militant group.

"We demand that the Pakistani government hang Raymond Davis or otherwise hand him over to us. We will decide his fate," Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Azam Tariq said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Tariq claimed that Davis, whose exact role in Pakistan has been unclear, was a spy.

"He was here for spying. He is an American spy. We will kill all those people and will target them who will help him (Davis) or try to set him free," Tariq said.

"He is a killer, he has killed two innocent Pakistanis. We will take revenge for them," he added.

The shooting has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Islamabad after the US demanded that Davis, who shot two Pakistani motorcyclists on January 27, be freed on the grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Annual talks between the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan set for this month have been postponed, the State Department said on Saturday, amid the row.

Davis remains in Pakistani detention and police on Friday rejected his claim that he had shot in self-defence because he feared the two men were trying to rob him.

Following the incident the US consulate general in Lahore sent a vehicle to help him, but it ran over and killed a third Pakistani man before fleeing the scene.

Media reports claim Davis is a private security contractor or undercover agent. The US government has refused to confirm his name or precise job, other than that he belonged to the embassy`s "technical and administrative" staff.

The weak and unpopular Pakistani government is under enormous pressure at home to see Davis go on trial, in a country awash with anti-American sentiment.

Bureau Report