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PESHAWAR, Sept 19:  At least six persons including an industrialist and two employees of a cellular phone company were kidnapped by suspected militants at gunpoint from main Peshawar-Kohat Road in Matani area early on Wednesday morning.

The militants armed with sophisticated weapons dared enough to block the main Peshawar-Kohat Road, just a few miles away from the site of bomb blast occurred later in the day, and intercepted and combed passing vehicles to pick up people of their own choice in absence of law-enforcers.

The drama on the main road continued for several hours. However, later police reportedly rushed to the site and forced the militants to flee. The fleeing militants succeeded in whisking away the six denizens with them.

The incident further increased the prevalent fear among the residents, who had already been bearing brunt of militancy. “In an aggressive defiance, the militants strike at their sweet will whenever they want,” residents said.

A police official told Dawn that a group of militants blocked the main road in Darwazgai area in the limits of Matani police station and stopped vehicles coming from either side.

He said that the kidnapped persons included an industrialist Ijaz Rafiq and his driver Ahmed. They were on their way from Kohat side to Peshawar in a vehicle bearing registration number SZ-888 that was left behind on the road. Similarly, employees of a cellular phone company Akbar Khan and his driver Nadeem Siddiqui were also among the kidnapped persons.

The militants also made hostage the district revenue officer of Bannu, Sajid Nawaz, his gunman and driver at gunpoint. However, the revenue officer managed to flee while his driver and gunman were kidnapped.

Police claimed that after getting information they reached the spot and exchanged fire with the militants. The vehicles of the kidnapped persons were brought to the police station and cases against the kidnappers were registered under anti-terrorism law.

DSP Fazl Maula, when contacted, told Dawn that five of the militants were injured in exchange of fire. It was dark and police could not properly see them to chase, he said.

The DSP said that militants fled towards Akakhel area of Frontier Region of Peshawar. “We tried to chase them but they attacked our armoured personnel carrier and burst its tyres,” he said, adding that the encounter continued for over three hours.

The official said that police had got some information about the presence of suspected people but tribal region was very close and they could not be chased with limited arms and ammunitions.

Another official said that later during search operation about 15 suspected persons of the area were arrested.

The people, he said, were living in the area close to the tribal regions and might give some clues to police about the militants’ group. The official did not confirm as the militants were Taliban or belonged to outlawed Lashkar-i-Islam.