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UPPER DIR, Sept 18: Two militants were killed and one was captured in a shootout with local residents on Thursday after their attempt to hold 300 schoolchildren hostage was foiled in Nihag Darra area of upper Dir.

Police said the militants were going to Swat to join their comrades in Peuchar area when they confronted the villagers in Maskari area. The militants were asked to surrender, but they ran towards a government school.

Announcements were made from mosques asking people to take up arms against the militants. Hundreds of armed people from 10 villages took part in the action.

Two militants, identified as Mohammad Ali and Gul Mohammad, were killed. Malang Jan, an Afghan national, was handed over to police.

However, there were conflicting reports about how the militants died.

Locals said two of the militants were suicide bombers who blew themselves up when their attempt to enter the school was foiled.

An eyewitness said that one of the three militants had reserved three seats for women in a vehicle in Wari. The driver was told that the women would get on board in Shahi Bagh, a village three kilometres from Wari.

However, instead of women three armed men got into the vehicle, triggering an exchange of harsh words between the driver and the militants.

“When other passengers intervened the militants ran away,” the witness said, adding that people asked them to surrender but they opened fire and tried to enter the school premises.

He said that local people returned fire and killed one of them while the one, besieged by the residents, blew himself up. One militant was arrested and the other escaped.