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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Militants abduct Pakistan troops
By Syed Shoaib Hasan
BBC News, Islamabad

Pakistani Army soldiers take position at Sholam Post, South Waziristan April 2007
Scores of soldiers have gone missing in recent weeks
Pro-Taleban militants have kidnapped seven paramilitary soldiers in Pakistan's volatile tribal areas, local police officials say.

Tuesday's abduction follows the killing on Monday of 18 army troops by the militants.

Pakistan's army re-started operations against militants in tribal areas along the Afghan border in August.

US officials have said the area has become a safe haven for the Al Qaeda and Taliban.

"Dozens of Taleban from North Waziristan attacked the check post near Tull on Tuesday night," local police chief Mirza Khan told the BBC.

Tull is a sub-division of North West Frontier Province's Hangu district near North Waziristan.

Morale

This is the fourth major incident of kidnapping of army troops by the militants.

map

In August, 18 soldiers, an officer and a civilian were taken hostage. One of the soldiers was later decapitated on video. The others were later released after the intervention of local tribal elders.

A few days after their release, more than 200 soldiers were taken hostage without a fight in South Waziristan.

Another group of 10 soldiers was also taken hostage in the Mohmand tribal area, but soon released.

The 200-plus soldiers are still being held and the militants say they will be killed unless the army discontinues its operations and leaves the region.

An interior ministry spokesman told reporters in Islamabad on Wednesday that the government was doing its best to resolve the matter peacefully. But he added all options were open if negotiations failed.

Analysts say the kidnappings, as well as several recent attacks on army personnel, have seen morale plummet.

Tuesday's kidnapping follows the cold-blooded killing of 18 army troops in Razmak in South Waziristan on the same day.

But the most significant attack was on 13 September when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a heavily-guarded special forces base, killing 20 personnel.

The special forces have been used as a strike force in operations against pro-Taleban militants.


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