Pakistan Asks Karzai to Help Secure Release of 30 Kidnapped Youths
Pakistan has called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to help with efforts to secure the release of about 30 Pakistani youths abducted by Taliban militants along the Pakistani-Afghan border last week.
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik made the appeal to Mr. Karzai Sunday. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for Thursday's kidnapping of the youths, who were visiting an area in Pakistan's Bajaur tribal region. The militant group said it abducted them because they belong to a tribe whose militia supports the Pakistani government in fighting the Taliban.
Pakistani authorities say the youths apparently strayed into the Afghan province of Kunar, where gunmen seized about 30 of them and forced them into vehicles. Some youths escaped and alerted elders of their Mamound tribe about the kidnapping. The Pakistani officials say the kidnapped youths include teenagers and children as young as 10. The Pakistani Taliban says it is holding only young men in their 20s.
It is not clear whether the kidnapped youths are being detained on the Afghan or Pakistani side of the border.
Pakistani authorities say Mamound tribal elders have formed a jirga, or council, to negotiate with the militants for the release of the youths. The Pakistani tribesmen also have contacted Afghan tribal elders in Kunar province for help.
Pakistani Taliban militants based in eastern Afghanistan have staged several cross-border attacks on Pakistani security positions in recent months. Many Pakistani Taliban fighters fled to Afghan border regions in the past two years, as the Pakistani military carried out anti-insurgent offensives in Pakistani tribal regions such as Bajaur.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.