MINGORA/TIMERGARA, Feb 4: The Taliban in Swat set free 30 police and paramilitary personnel in the presence of journalists in Kotli Dadhara area of Kabal tehsil on Wednesday, after securing written promise from them that they would quit their government jobs.

“The hostages have been released on humanitarian grounds, but with a condition that they will quit their jobs and never fight against the Taliban,” local Taliban leaders told newsmen after a meeting of the Taliban Shura.

The security personnel were kidnapped on Tuesday when the militants overran a police checkpoint in Shamozai area adjacent to the Lower Dir district. The area had been under siege for 36 hours.

The security personnel surrendered when they ran out of ammunition and their request for reinforcements from the army base camp in Kabal went unheeded, a freed policeman said.

“We fought the Taliban the whole day, but at night we ran out of ammunition and we had no other option but to surrender,” the policeman said.

The Taliban blew up the checkpoint and took the personnel they had captured to their stronghold of Kabal on Wednesday morning.

Constable Kiramat Shah said: “Taliban have given us a new life. We had been under the siege for about 36 hours and pleaded for reinforcements, but nobody came to our help.”

Taliban leaders said the released personnel would publish advertisements in local newspapers, announcing their resignation and promising never to take part in any future action against Taliban.

The Taliban’s siege of the checkpoint triggered shelling from the military base in Kabal, Swat and Chakdara Fort.

Four civilians were killed in the shelling.

Local people said the victims were taking breakfast when mortar shells hit their homes, killing them on the spot.

Meanwhile, militants torched the house of a close relative of ANP’s senior leader Afzal Khan in Bagh Dehri area in Taliban’s stronghold of Matta on Wednesday night.

Local people said that a large number of armed men attacked the house and the adjacent guest house of Khursheed Khan, a nephew of Afzal Khan Lala. They asked the watchmen to leave the compound and set fire to the houses. Mr Khursheed had already left the area.

Unlike MNAs and MPAs elected from the troubled Swat valley, Afzal Khan, a former federal minister, has not left his native Daroshkhela village despite several attempts made by Taliban to kill him and his relatives.

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