Militants seize 16 security personnel in Pakistan

June 23rd, 2008 - 1:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, June 23 (DPA) Suspected pro-Taliban militants have abducted 16 security personnel in Pakistan’s tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said Monday. The law enforcers from tribal police, known as the Khasadar Force, were seized during a raid on two check posts by heavily armed militants in the tribal district of Khyber Agency late Sunday.

“The insurgents exchanged fire with the security forces for more than one hour. One Khasadar and two militants were injured,” said Fazal Mehmud, an official of the semi-autonomous region’s administration.

We are making efforts for their release, he added.

All three injured were moved to the hospital from where the masked gunmen took their wounded comrades with them by force.

The attack took place hours after a militant threatened to blow himself up when security forces tried to arrest him in Khyber district.

Following hours-long negotiations, the 17-year-old militant surrendered to a local Islamic organization which moved him to an unknown location.

Like other districts of Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, restive Khyber district also has sanctuaries for Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters launching cross-border attacks on NATO-led international troops in Afghanistan. They also target Pakistani security forces.

The new government in Islamabad has launched peace negotiations with the rebels since March when it took over. The process led to a sharp decline in the militant attacks, which have killed around 4,000 people over the last 15 months, but did not halt them completely.

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