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Taliban Militants in Pakistan Release 8 Hostages

Taliban militants in northwestern Pakistan have released eight of around two dozen government officials kidnapped about two weeks ago.

Officials say Friday's release was the result of talks between the Taliban and tribal elders. It comes just days after government forces ended operations in the nearby town of Hangu aimed at ridding the area of militants.

Officials say efforts are under way to secure the freedom of the other hostages.

Tribal elders says the Taliban is trying to use the hostages in an effort to gain the release of several captured militants, including a man believed to be the deputy of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud.

Meanwhile, police in northwestern Pakistan say militants in the Swat Valley blew up a school for girls and damaged 10 shops in separate attacks. No casualties were reported.

Pakistani officials had signed a deal with militants in Swat in May, aimed at ending months of violence in the region.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.