Pakistani militants free two workers of US-based NGO

May 3rd, 2008 - 10:09 pm ICT by admin  

Peshawar, May 3 (DPA) Islamic militants Saturday released four people, including two workers of a US based non governmental organisation (NGO), who had been taken hostage a few days ago in Pakistan’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan, officials said. “All the four hostages were released through the mediation of a tribal Jirga (tribal elders’ council) from Ambar area of Bajaur Agency,” a local official told DPA.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the hostages included two workers of Save the Children - a US organisation that that works on child rights in the region - and two Pakistani government employees.

The NGO workers were taken hostage by local Taliban a few days previously as they were visiting the neighbouring Mohammand tribal district which has recently seen a rise in violence by Islamic extremists.

Last month the militants killed a female health worker and a school teacher. Both had ignored repeated warnings by radicals who believe women’s education and work outside home is un-Islamic.

A local journalist, Hazrat Khan Mohmand, said thousands of people have in recent months migrated from different parts of the tribal district to safer areas due to fear of local Taliban, who have established their own courts and administer punishments if someone deviates from their strict version of religious principles.

Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas are largely under the control of Islamic militants, who are influenced by the ideology of Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

They also have provided sanctuaries and supplies to the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists to launch cross border attacks into Afghanistan.

Pakistan is currently trying to engage the tribal rebels in peace talks believing they could be persuaded this way to give up violence. The US, which has thousands of soldiers in Afghanistan, has given a mixed reaction to the move.

“They certainly know the US is watching it, and we’ll articulate our concerns if it turns out to be not as successful as in the past,” said Dell L. Dailey, coordinator of the State Department’s Office for Counterterrorism Friday.

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