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Pakistani Military Recovers Abducted Students

By VOA News
02 June 2009

Pakistani officials say troops have rescued all students and staff who were kidnapped Monday by suspected Taliban militants in northwestern Pakistan.

Military and government officials say the army recovered 71 students and 9 staff members following a fierce gunbattle with militants early Tuesday in in North Waziristan.

The military said the clash occurred when government troops stopped the militants on a road as they tried to move their captives into neighboring South Waziristan.

No casualties were reported.

Police said earlier that negotiations with the militants were underway overnight via a council of local tribal elders (jirga).

Pakistani authorities said the heavily armed Taliban militants from North Waziristan crossed into adjoining Bannu district on Monday and kidnapped a large number of students who were traveling in a convoy.

The convoy reportedly came from Razmak Cadet College, a military-run school in North Waziristan for young men.

Authorities in Bannu district initially said the convoy was carrying up to 400 students, parents and teachers. But later accounts suggested that some of the group escaped and that the number of people and vehicles involved may have been much lower.

Meanwhile, Pakistani troops continue to battle Taliban militants to the north, in Swat Valley.

The military said Monday it lifted a curfew in seven parts of Swat after aid workers and journalists reported a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.

Troops were reported to be closing in on the town of Charbagh, a key Taliban stronghold near Swat's main town of Mingora. The military was dropping leaflets urging people to evacuate ahead of a possible offensive.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, a bomb ripped through a bus station in the northwestern garrison town of Kohat, killing two people and wounding 18 others.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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