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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Pakistani soldiers' bodies found
Troops in South Waziristan, 14, July 2007
Scores of soldiers have been kidnapped in recent days
The police in north-west Pakistan have recovered bodies of three soldiers who they suspect have been killed by pro-Taleban militants, officials say.

The bodies were found a day after a spokesman for the militants said they would start killing three soldiers a day unless their demands were met.

The militants have demanded the release of a number of prisoners.

They are still holding some 300 soldiers they kidnapped in nearby South Waziristan on 30 August.

An official told the BBC that three bodies of soldiers had been recovered in the Jandola area near the Afghan border early on Thursday.

The BBC Urdu service's Dilawar Khan Wazir said the recovery of the bodies comes a week after a court in North West Frontier Province's southern city of Dera Ismail Khan sentenced Suhailzeb Mahsud to 24 years in prison on charges of keeping explosives and two explosives-laden jackets used by suicide bombers.

Conflicting accounts

Suhailzeb is the nephew of Abdullah Mahsud, the militant commander who was wanted in connection with the kidnapping of Chinese engineers in South Waziristan in 2004.

Abdullah Mahsud was killed in a raid by security forces in Balochistan in July.

The militants kidnapped nearly 300 Pakistani troops from the Ladha area of South Waziristan on 30 August.

map

About 30 of them were released at different times following intervention by a jirga, or tribal council, constituted by the government to negotiate their release.

However, the government has been resisting the militants' demand that it release close to 30 men being held by the government on suspicion they have links to suicide attacks and bombings in Pakistani territory.

The militants have also demanded an end to military deployment in the area.

Violence has soared since troops were sent in to oust radical Islamists from Islamabad's Red Mosque in July. More than 100 people died in the operation.

The United States is pressing Pakistan to take stronger action against Taleban and al-Qaeda militants operating from its border areas.

The army has given conflicting accounts of what happened to the soldiers in Ladha on 30 August.

First they said the men had been caught in bad weather and had taken shelter.

Then they said no troops had been seized, but that about 180 men were stuck in fighting between militants and tribesmen and unable to leave.

Correspondents say that the kidnapping of so many soldiers, apparently without a fight, has been a major embarrassment for the authorities.

They have demanded the release of a number of prisoners and an end to military deployment in their area.



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