Taliban threaten to kill hostages

July 12, 2008

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PESHAWAR, July 11: A Taliban spokesman has said that militants will start killing a group of hostages if their men detained by the government are not released by Saturday afternoon.

Maulvi Umar claimed on Friday that the Taliban had kidnapped 29 people, most of them security forces personnel.

However, a Hangu district official said that only 16 or 17 people had been held by the Taliban. He said the hostages were taken during a siege of a police station in Hangu on Wednesday.

A 400-strong force of Taliban militants besieged the Doaba police station after the arrest of seven of their associates by security agencies.

The provincial government sought the army’s help which immediately moved in artillery and tanks from Kohat and took control of the entire Doaba area on Thursday.

The militants demanded the release of their associates. Rafiuddin, suspected of being a deputy to top Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, is believed to be among those prisoners.

A jirga constituted to negotiate the release of government officials continued its efforts but no breakthrough was reported.

Maulvi Umar said the government must release the prisoners by Saturday afternoon or the hostages would be killed..—AP