Taliban demand exchange of prisoners for kidnapped children
Taliban militants demanded on Tuesday the release of their prisoners and dissolution of pro-government militias in return for the freedom of at least 20 children taken hostage by the Taliban after they mistakenly crossed into Afghanistan, dpa reported.
The demands were made when the Taliban allowed a group of Afghan journalists, who were brought blindfolded to an unknown site, to interview four abducted children.
A Pakistani Taliban commander calling himself Mullah Ubaidullah also briefed the media, said one of the journalists who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The boys, aged 10 to 18, were kidnapped last Thursday when they were visiting the Ghaki Pass area, a scenic hill resort, in Bajaur district on the border during the Eid al-Fitr holiday. They crossed into the Afghan border province of Kunar to swim in a nearby river.
Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.
All of the children are from the Mamoond tribe that has formed a militia to support government forces who have captured Taliban hideouts in the district and forced the militants to take shelter in adjoining Afghan territory.
Pakistani officials said that they were trying to recover the abducted children
Islam Zaif Khan, the top official in the Pakistani district, said Tuesday that contacts were being made at government level between Pakistan and Afghanistan and local security forces were also trying to recover the children.