30 Pakistani Boys ‘Kidnapped By Taliban In Afghanistan’

2 Sep

Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan have kidnapped more than 30 Pakistani boys who had mistakenly crossed the unmarked border from the country’s lawless northwest, officials said Friday.

Afghanistan shares a disputed, unmarked 2,400-km (1,500-mile) border with Pakistan

They said the incident took place on Thursday after the group of boys, aged between 12 and 18, left the Gharkhi area of Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal region during celebrations marking the Muslim Eid holiday.

“These boys inadvertently crossed into Afghanistan while picnicking on the second day of Eid and were kidnapped by militants,” senior local administration official Syed Nasim told AFP.

Bajaur administration official Islam Zeb said the boys had been abducted by a militant group allied with Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, who led insurgents in Bajaur but is believed to have fled to Afghanistan in 2010.

“The kidnappers belonged to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan‘s (TTP) Faqir Muhammad group, which used to operate in Bajaur,” said Zeb.

Two local intelligence officials confirmed those reports.

Afghan border police commander General Aminullah Amarkhel, the governor of Kunar, where the boys vanished, Fazlullah Wahidi, and the local Afghan Taliban commander all told AFP they were unaware of the incident.

Afghanistan shares a disputed and unmarked 2,400-kilometre (1,500-mile) border with Pakistan, and Taliban and other Al-Qaeda-linked militants have carved out strongholds on either side.

The Pakistani military has repeatedly claimed to have eliminated the militant threat in Bajaur, one of seven districts in the semi-autonomous tribal belt that the United States sees as the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.

Another Pakistani administration official speaking anonymously said security forces were stretched thin along parts of the frontier.

“It is a porous border and security cover is not available everywhere,” he said.

The last similar incident was in June 2009 when hundreds of Pakistani students from the tribal North Waziristan region were kidnapped by Pakistani Taliban as they travelled in a convoy of buses to the northwestern town of Bannu after their college closed for its summer vacation.

All were later released unharmed.

Afghanistan and Pakistan blame each other for several recent cross-border attacks that have killed dozens and displaced hundreds of families.

The Pakistani military have accused Faqir Muhammad of being behind an attack on a Pakistani paramilitary checkpost last week, which killed 25 troops.

It said his group helped co-ordinate the raid, adding that the terrorists regrouped in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan with Afghan support after their expulsion from Pakistan.

An escalating border war in the area is fanning tensions at a key juncture as Afghans and Americans reach out to the Taliban for peace talks.

For years the neighbours have traded accusations over the Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants embedded in both countries, who criss-cross the porous, unmarked border and fight security forces from both governments.

Afghan officials say that since early May hundreds of rockets, mortars and artillery shells have been fired from Pakistan into Afghan villages.

But the Pakistan military admits only that a few stray rounds may have crossed the border and complains that villages on its side of the border have been the victim of Afghan-based Taliban violence.

The row is exacerbated by the fact that Afghanistan disputes the 2,400-kilometre (1,500-mile) Durrand Line, the 19th century demarcation of the border that separates Pashtun families and tribes.

US troops in Afghanistan earlier this year abandoned remote outposts in the far reaches of Kunar and Nuristan provinces, where they had failed to win over locals, in favour of concentrating on larger population centres.

Map locating Pakistan's Bajaur tribal region. Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan have kidnapped more than 30 Pakistani boys who had mistakenly crossed the unmarked border from Bajaur, according to Pakistani officialsEnlarge Photo

Map locating Pakistan‘s Bajaur tribal region. Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan have …

 

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