Islamabad: A group of about 40 Pakistani
boys, who strayed into Afghanistan during a picnic to
celebrate Eid have been kidnapped by Taliban militants,
raising fears that they could be turned into suicide bombers.
The children from the age-group of 12-18 years are from
the restive Bajaur tribal region and were kidnapped yesterday
when they crossed over into Afghanistan`s eastern Kunar
province, TV channels quoted an official as saying.
A Pakistan army official said deputy chief of
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Maulvi Faqir, who belonged to
Bajajur, is now operating from Kunar.
Bajaur has the dubious distinction of producing Pakistan`s
first group of female suicide bombers, who have been in action
in the recent past.
A `jirga` or council of tribal elders, have been sent to
Afghanistan to seek their release, the official said.
Dawn TV reported that militants had arrived in five
vehicles and took the children to unknown destinations.
There were however conflicting reports on the number of
children kidnapped. While some TV channels put the figure at
40, others said only 30 boys were being held hostage.
Tribal elders also asked the local administration to step
up efforts for the early release of the children.
Regional Khyber TV reported that the children could be
used for suicide bombings if the government and tribal elders
failed to secure their release.
The parents of the children held hostage have asked the
government and the tribal elders to ensure their safe return.
A jirga of the main Mamond tribe has been convened to
explore ways to rescue the children.
Officials said members of Pakistani Taliban are also
active across the border and are launching attacks on
Pakistani posts from their bases in the Afghan border regions.