Taliban release kidnapped official in Pakistan (Lead)

February 23rd, 2009 - 1:03 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Feb 22 (Xinhua) The Taliban in northwest Pakistan Sunday released a government official after holding him hostage for several hours.
The District Coordination Officer (DCO) of Swat, Khushhal Khan was transferred to Swat valley two days ago and was on his way to Saidu Sharif area for taking over charge when he was kidnapped along with six bodyguards, according to press reports.

The News Network International news agency quoted Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan as saying that the official was “not kidnapped” but was stopped “as a guest” for a cup of tea.

Muslim Khan said they had allowed the official to go after “taking care of him as a guest.”

The incident came just one day after the government and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Swat chapter agreed to a permanent ceasefire in the militancy-hit Swat Valley after Maulana Fazlullah accepted the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation.

After successful negotiations with a banned group called Tehrik-e-Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM), the North West Frontier Province government Feb 16 promulgated the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, according to which Islamic laws would be enforced in Malakand division and Swat valley once peace was restored in Swat.

Following the announcement, the TNSM chief Sufi Mohammed went further to talk to Fazlullah who, according to media reports, is the leader of Taliban militants in Swat valley.

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