Taliban free detained Pakistani tribesmen

The 23 tribesmen were detained for meeting Pakistan`s powerful Army chief.

Last Updated: Dec 31, 2010, 15:54 PM IST

Miranshah: Taliban militants on Friday freed 23 tribesmen whom they had detained this month for meeting Pakistan`s powerful Army chief in the country`s lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border.

Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq said from an undisclosed location that a militant "court" freed the 23 tribesmen after "they swore on the holy Quran that they would never support the government in future".

Officials had said 23 elders from the district of South Waziristan were summoned by the Taliban to Razmak, a town in neighbouring North Waziristan, on December 17 and had not returned.

Local intelligence and administration officials confirmed the release.

The Pakistani military carried out an offensive last year in parts of South Waziristan targeting the headquarters of the country`s main Taliban faction, following an increase in militant bomb attacks in late 2009.

Many of the Taliban commanders and their footsoldiers are believed to have fled into North Waziristan, where Pakistan has so far resisted American pressure for a similar offensive.

Bureau Report