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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 12:24 GMT
Militants parade Pakistani troops
By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Swat

Captured soldiers

Taleban fighters in Pakistan's northern district of Swat have paraded 48 paramilitary troops they captured in fighting this week.

The soldiers said they surrendered when their positions on a hilltop were surrounded by armed militants.

More than 2,500 paramilitary troops were sent to Swat last week as fighting in the area worsened.

Nearly 300 soldiers are still being held prisoner further south in the Waziristan tribal region.

The militants in Swat want the imposition of Sharia law.

'Fellow Muslims'

The troops captured in Swat this week were air-dropped by helicopters last Saturday.

They say that more than 100 troops abandoned their positions on Thursday night.


The government has been denying that any of its troops have been captured.

While 48 of them surrendered to the militants, others managed to escape into the countryside.

All the troops were shabbily dressed, wearing clothes given to them by the militants.

Most said they dumped their uniforms somewhere in the fields or gave them to the militants.

All of them hail from different areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), where Swat is located.

"I surrendered because I realised that I was only fighting fellow Muslims," said Shafiullah, a soldier from Dargai area.

The soldiers, who make up the often poorly trained ranks of the Frontier Corps, were visibly under stress.

At least two soldiers from Dargai area had been able to inform their families after their capture.

"As soon as we received the message, all the men and women of the family got into truck and came here to plead with the Taleban for my son's life," said Ramzan, the father of one captured soldier, Murad Khan.

The families met Abdullah, the Taleban commander for Charbagh area, some 15km (nine miles) north of Mingora, the main town in Swat district.

Later on Friday the militants said they had freed all the troops.

Directing traffic

A major business centre on the road that connects Mingora with the tourist resorts of Madyan, Miandam and Kalam, Charbagh is in Taleban control.

Taleban militants were seen directing the traffic on the road.

There was an air of jubilation among them after the news that Khwazakhela, another important town 27km north of Mingora, had fallen to the militants.

One of them was distributing sweets to commuters on the road.

Captured Pakistan government troops

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