Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Sunday, 22 February 2009

Official in Pakistan 'kidnapped'

Market in Mingora, in Pakistan's Swat valley - 22/2/2009
Life is said to be returning to normal in Mingora, residents say

A senior government administrator in Pakistan's troubled Swat valley has been abducted by gunmen, officials say.

Kushal Khan - the head of the district's administration - was seized by armed men on his way to Mingora, Swat's main town, witnesses said.

But Taleban sources are quoted as saying Mr Khan was a "guest" of the group and would be released soon.

Taleban rebels have been taking part in negotiations with the government over a permanent ceasefire in Swat.

More than 1,000 people have been killed and many more have fled the valley since violence intensified in 2007.

Permanent truce?

Following the administrator's disappearance a Taleban spokesman, Muslim Khan, in Swat told Reuters: "He is our guest. We have to discuss some issues with him. We will serve him with tea and then free him."

Last week the government and the rebels announced a 10-day ceasefire in the area.


On Saturday, the Taleban said they would announce in the coming days whether it should be made permanent.

Muslim Khan told the BBC the rebels were reviewing government progress on the implementation of Sharia law in Swat.

The Taleban control the entire countryside of Swat, limiting army control to parts of Mingora.

Some of the Swat residents who fled the unrest have begun to return to their homes and the army has begun to dismantle their checkpoints, says the BBC's Shoaib Hasan, in Islamabad.

Maulana Fazlullah, who has led the violent campaign to impose Sharia in the region, announced he would temporarily lift the ban on girls schools.

More than 100 schools, including some for boys, have been destroyed in the last 20 months.

Residents of Mingora said life was slowly returning to normal under the ceasefire, with shops and markets crowded, AFP news agency reported.

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