Pakistan asks Kabul to help release children

Afghanistan and Pakistan blame each other for several recent cross-border attacks that have killed dozens.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s cabinet on Thursday asked Kabul to secure the release of more than 30 children who were kidnapped after mistakenly crossing the border into Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the abduction, and said that "these people belong to the areas where tribesmen rose militias" against it.

The cabinet "condemned the abduction of innocent children from Bajaur and asked the Kabul government to get them freed soon”, an official statement said.

The incident took place last week when more than 30 boys inadvertently crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan`s lawless northwest while going on a picnic on the second day of the Islamic festival of Eid.

Local officials put the kidnapped boys` ages at between 12 and 18 but the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed they were 20 to 30 years old.

Pakistani officials blamed the abduction on a militant group allied with Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, who led insurgents in Bajaur but is believed to have fled to Afghanistan in 2010.

Afghanistan shares a disputed and unmarked 2,400-kilometre border with Pakistan, and Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked militants have carved out strongholds on either side in their fight against security forces from both governments.

The Pakistani military has repeatedly claimed to have eliminated the militant threat in Bajaur, one of seven districts in the semi-autonomous tribal belt that the United States sees as the global headquarters of al Qaeda.

Afghanistan and Pakistan blame each other for several recent cross-border attacks that have killed dozens and displaced hundreds of families.

Islamabad`s military has accused Faqir Muhammad of being behind a recent attack on a Pakistani paramilitary checkpost in the northwestern town of Chitral, which killed 25 troops.


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