Taliban kill three Pakistani soldiers

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MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, Nov 8 (Reuters) Pakistani tribesmen have found the corpses of three abducted soldiers in the North Waziristan region where al Qaeda and Taliban-linked militants have mounted an insurgency, a security official said today.

Four security personnel were kidnapped from Razmak, south of the region's main town, Miranshah, on Tuesday.

A security official in Miranshah told Reuters residents had found only three bodies in the Dangeen mountains near Razmak yesterday.

''They were shot dead. We don't know about the fourth one,'' he said.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the killings and said other soldiers would meet the same fate unless they left the military.

''Those troops resisted, that's why we killed them. But we promise that those who quit the military will be provided with security,'' said the spokesman, Ahmedullah Ahmedi.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan's security has deteriorated sharply since July, when Pakistani commandos stormed the Red Mosque in the capital, Islamabad, to crush a Taliban-style movement.

Nearly 800 people have been killed in militant-linked violence since then, including more than 23 suicide attacks, adding to a sense of crisis as military president Pervez Musharraf attempts to secure another term.

North and neighbouring South Waziristan, near the Afghan border, are hotbeds of support for al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Militants in South Waziristan freed 211 Pakistani troops at the weekend in exchange for 25 comrades captured in different raids.

Those troops had been held hostage for more than two months.

Another security official said two district government officials had also been kidnapped from Razmak last evening.

Reuters MS GC1933

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