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Taliban Assassinate Pakistani Army Officer

Taliban militants have shot dead a Pakistani military officer in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Officials say Lieutenant Colonel Tariq Ghafoor was returning from a mosque after Friday afternoon prayers when gunmen ambushed him.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed the militant group was behind the deadly ambush in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The anti-state extremist outfit insists it wants to oust the "un-Islamic" governance system in the country and has killed thousands of Pakistanis in terrorist attacks.

Government officials kidnapped

The violence came a day after unknown gunmen kidnapped eight government officials in the restive South Waziristan tribal region near the province.

No one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping that occurred in an area that has been a militant stronghold. Officials say the abductees are employees of the development department for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Pakistani security forces on Friday arrested more than 20 tribal leaders and elders under a “collective responsibility” punishment to pressure them to help authorities locate and free the kidnapped men.

The semi-autonomous tribal belt bordering Afghanistan consists of seven districts, including South Waziristan, and is governed by a set of colonial-era laws called Frontier Crimes Regulations, or FCR.

The controversial FCR allows authorities to arrest and detain relatives, tribesmen and neighbors of suspects for years without trial for a crime committed in their area.