Pak frees 20 in return for arms seized by Taliban

Pak authorities have released 20 Taliban militants in exchange for vehicles and weapons terrorists had seized during an ambush on an army convoy.

Last Updated: Jun 08, 2010, 14:27 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistani authorities have
released 20 Taliban militants in exchange for vehicles and
weapons the terrorists had seized during an ambush on an army
convoy in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region.

The militants were released after a `jirga` or council of
tribal elders and clerics brokered a truce yesterday between
the security forces and a Taliban faction led by Hafiz Gul
Bahadur, `The News daily` reported today.

The authorities released 20 of 54 Taliban men they had
detained in the area and also agreed to remove some check
posts that the militants and local tribesmen had objected to.

In return, the Taliban released some vehicles, arms and
ammunition that they had captured after attacking the army
convoy in Hamzoni area on April 23. At least seven soldiers,
including an officer, were killed in the ambush.

The attack had strained relations between the authorities
and the Taliban faction led by Bahadur, who had signed a peace
deal with the government in 2007.

Following the attack, authorities imposed curfew on the
key Miranshah-Dattakhel road and launched a crackdown on the
Hamzoni tribe under the archaic Frontier Crimes Regulation.

According to this British-era law, action is taken
against an entire tribe if one of its members is linked to a
criminal act. Over 50 tribesmen, including Taliban fighters,
were arrested by the authorities.

The report said there had been an improvement in the
situation following the truce brokered yesterday by the jirga.
Sources privy to the working of the jirga were quoted as
saying that militant leader Bahadur had promised that his men
would not confront the government.

Bahadur also said his fighters would be responsible for
protecting security forces if he was informed in advance about
the movement of their convoys in his area.

The daily quoted sources as saying that Bahadur`s pledge
of remaining peaceful enabled a large military convoy to
travel from Miranshah to Gharlamay Fort near the border with
Afghanistan.

PTI