Militants attack, capture 12 troops in NW Pakistan

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Peshawar (Pakistan), Sep 12: About 200 pro-Taliban militants attacked a paramilitary post in northwest Pakistan today and captured 12 soldiers, an official said, in the lastest incident of spiraling violence in the region.

Militants firing rocket-propelled grenades launched a pre-dawn raid on the post on the outskirts of the town of Bannu in North West Frontier Province.

Violence in northwest Pakistan has escalated since July when a peace deal with militants broke down in one region and the army stormed a radical mosque in the capital, Islamabad, to quell a Taliban-style movement linked to militants in the northwest.

''After the rocket attack, about 200 militants launched a physical attack on the post and kidnapped 12 men of the Frontier Constabulary,'' said an officer in the force, Amir Badshah Utmankheil.

The abduction came as authorities were still trying to negotiate the release of about 240 soldiers captured last month in the South Waziristan region, which is also in the northwest, on the Afghan border.

Elders from ethnic Pashtun tribes are trying to mediate with the South Waziristan militants, who are demanding the withdrawal of troops from the area and the release of 15 of their comrades.

Several hundred people have been killed in violence since July, most in the northwest. But more than 50 people have been killed in suicide blasts in Islamabad and the nearby city of Rawalpindi, where the army has its headquarters.

Sixteen people were killed yesterday when a teenaged suicide bomber set off explosives in another northwestern city, Dera Islam Khan.


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