Pakistani Taliban militants release 25 law enforcement officials

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Islamabad, Sep 16 (UNI) Pakistan Taliban has released 25 of the 38 law-enforcement personnel they had kidnapped in July from Pakistan's restive northwestern Swat valley.

A local Taliban spokesman told mediapersons yesterday that their shura had decided that the remaining 13 personnel would be freed soon. He said the hostages were being freed as a goodwill gesture in reverence for Ramazan and not because of any deal.

The militants had captured 25 soldiers of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) and nine policemen from Deolai police post in Kabal on July 29. Four policemen had been kidnapped from others areas of Swat where security forces launched operation against militants in July last year.

The spokesman claimed that the Chinese embassy in Islamabad has approached us to negotiate the release of their two engineers seized by our men.

The two technicians working for a Chinese cellular company were kidnapped from Dir on August 29 and taken to Swat.

''We told the Chinese diplomats that we would like to negotiate through the Pakistan government. Over 100 of our men are in government custody and we want them to be released. We may also make some other demands before we set them free,'' he said.

He said the government had not contacted the Taliban on the issue.

Meanwhile, security forces attacked suspected militant positions in Koza Bandai, Dheri and other areas with artillery in Swat. The attacks had resumed on Sunday night following a two-day lull after a jirga failed to broker a ceasefire.

Sources said shells hit several houses, killing two brothers and wounding eight other people.

UNI XC PD AS1148

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