Militants free 59 security personnel in Pakistan

July 1st, 2008 - 4:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, July 1 (DPA) Islamic militants Tuesday released 59 paramilitary troops and police officers abducted over the week from Pakistan’s restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan, officials said. Hundreds of heavily armed men from the Toori tribe seized 45 paramilitary soldiers of the Frontier Corps (FC) Monday after intercepting their convoy moving from Parachinar, the main town in tribal district of Kurram, to the Afghan border.

“The abduction took place due to a misunderstanding. The Toori people suspected that some of the persons wearing FC uniform belonged to their rival Mangal tribe,” Azam Khan, the top district administrator, told DPA.

The captured troops were released early Tuesday after the authorities cleared up the misunderstanding.

The Toori and Mangal tribes belong to rival Shia and Sunni sects. Fierce clashes between the two have left hundreds of people dead in recent months.

Arms and vehicles the tribesmen captured together with the soldiers were also returned to the FC authorities.

In a separate incident in Khyber district, 14 tribal policemen were also freed by a militant group Tuesday, a local official said.

They were among 17 security personnel abducted May 22 during midnight raids on two checkpoints along the Pakistan-Afghanistan Highway, the main supply line for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Three were freed earlier.

The release of the 14 policemen took place following mediation by a militant group, the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Movement, headed by radical cleric Haji Namdar, whose centre was destroyed in a suspected missile attack Monday morning.

Eight people were killed in the strike.

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