Islamabad: Twenty-three tribal elders have been detained by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan after they attended a recent function addressed by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, according to a media report on Saturday.
The whereabouts of the elders from the Mehsud tribe is not known.
Militants affiliated to local Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud claimed they had been detained for attending the army chief?s function in South Waziristan earlier this month, The News daily reported.
The Taliban warned that the elders would be punished and may be given the "death penalty" for welcoming military commanders, supporting the government and accepting relief goods meant for Mehsud families displaced by fighting in the region, the report said.
There was no official word on the elders, who have been missing for the past week. All the elders belong to Makeen sub-division in South Waziristan and had been living in North Waziristan after being displaced from their homes when the army launched an operation against the Taliban last year.
The elders attended a function that was organised when Gen Kayani and the air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, visited Makeen on December 7 to review development projects.
The elders had announced that they would back the government`s efforts to restore peace in the area. This apparently angered the militants, who summoned the elders for a meeting in South Waziristan.
The elders left North Waziristan a week ago and had not returned since then, the report said.
The Taliban have repeatedly targeted pro-government tribal elders and warned people displaced by fighting not to accept aid from the authorities.