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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pak govt releases three Taliban in exchange of 10 soldiers

HANGU: The Pakistan government is learnt to have released at least three dreaded Taliban prisoners, including Baitullah Mehsud's deputy Maulvi
Rafiuddin, in exchange of 10 soldiers. The swap reportedly took place at Thal tehsil of Hangu district on Wednesday.

Sources said the exchange was made possible by the efforts of the Hangu Aman Jirga (peace council) in facilitating talks between the local administration and the Taliban.

Hangu district, which has a history of violence between minority Shia and majority Sunni sects, is close to Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan where Taliban are active.

The Taliban released seven soldiers, including Hawaldar Tanveer, Ghulam Mustafa, Imran, Rizwan, Imran Ali, Mohammad Nisar and Arshad, and three Kurram Militia personnel, Shahid, Subhan and Dawar. The three Taliban released on Wednesday were among the seven arrested by the Hangu police in Daoba area on July 9, reported the Daily Times.

The Taliban had besieged the Daoba police station in retaliation and taken 15 security personnel hostage, added the paper.

The release of the three Taliban had been a key demand since their arrest in July.

Earlier, in September, Rafiuddin and the other two Taliban were released on bail by an anti-terrorism court in Kohat, but were re-arrested under the Frontier Crimes Regulation for failing to give security for good behaviour. The release was negotiated after tribal elders said Rafiuddin's release would help restore peace in the troubled region.

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