Islamic militants free Christians abducted in north-west Pakistan
Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Sunday said the government had secured the release of 16 Christian minority members abducted overnight in the restive North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). ( dpa )
Suspected Islamic militants seized the members of the Christian community Saturday night in a raid on a downtown neighbourhood of the provincial capital Peshawar.
"We condemn this act and, despite the recovery of the abductees, an enquiry will be held to uncover the faces behind the incident," state-run Pakistan Television news channel quoted Gilani as saying in a parliamentary session vetting Pakistan's budget.
The news channel said a "religious organization" operating in Bara area of the semiautonomous Khyber tribal district handed over the hostages to government representatives early Sunday after successful negotiations.
There were conflicting reports about the total number of Christians seized as a private news channel said the police record showed kidnapping of 20 people.
One of the freed abductees told the private Express News channel that breaded men carrying assault rifles took them hostage when they were celebrating the birth of a child at the house of one of the community members.
But he gave no information about the kidnappers or the place where they were kept during the night.
The NWFP, which borders Afghanistan, has been plagued by Islamic militancy spilling out from adjacent lawless tribal areas. Extremist elements wanting to enforce Taliban-style laws have increased their activities in several main town of the province, including Peshawar.