Pak Taliban releases 23 tribesmen it abducted for meeting army chief

Peshawar, Jan 1(ANI): The Pakistan Taliban have released a group of 23 tribesmen, who were abducted following their meeting with army chief General Ashfaq Kayani during a recent trip to the lawless tribal belt.

"A Taliban court has freed the 23 tribesmen after they swore on the holy Quran that they will never support the government in future," the Daily Times quoted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Azam Tariq, as saying.

He said the tribesmen, who were whisked away by the TTP for attending a function with General Kayani in the Ladha and Makeen areas of South Waziristan on December 7, had told the Taliban court that they had had no idea that the army chief would be present there.

The circumstances surrounding their capture were murky. According to local intelligence officials, the terrorists lured the victims to a town on the border of South and North Waziristan with promises of food rations, and then grabbed the unsuspecting tribesmen.

Those kidnapped- including several students- hail from different families in various parts of South Waziristan and are part of the Mehsud tribe.

Following their capture, Pakistan Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq had told a news agency that the Taliban courts in South Waziristan were deciding how to punish them, and should come up with a "verdict" within days.

"This is a warning to the tribal people to not come to the area because we are still present in South Waziristan," Tariq had said via phone.

The incident further threatens the Pakistan government's shaky effort to convince hundreds of thousands of displaced members of the Mehsud tribe that the Taliban are defeated, and that it is safe to return to their homes in South Waziristan. (ANI)

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