Pakistan Asks Afghan Help to Free Kidnapped Youths

Posted September 8th, 2011 at 12:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan is again calling on the Afghan government to help secure the release of about 30 Pakistani youths who were kidnapped after mistakenly crossing into Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Cabinet on Thursday condemned the abduction and asked for Kabul's assistance in freeing the boys. Earlier this week, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik made a similar plea to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the September 1 kidnapping of the youths, who were from Pakistan's Bajaur tribal region and reportedly strayed into Afghanistan's Kunar province.

The militant group said it abducted the boys because they belong to a tribe whose militia supports the Pakistani government in fighting the Taliban.

Pakistani officials say the kidnapped youths include teenagers and children as young as 10. The Pakistani Taliban says it is holding only young men in their 20s.

Tribal elders in Pakistan are trying to negotiate with the militants for the release of the youths. The tribesmen also have contacted Afghan tribal elders in Kunar for help.

Pakistani Taliban militants based in eastern Afghanistan have staged several cross-border attacks on Pakistani security positions in recent months. Many Pakistani Taliban fighters fled to Afghan border regions in the past two years, as the Pakistani military carried out anti-insurgent offensives in Pakistani tribal regions such as Bajaur.