Pakistan: 'Taliban abduct 24 military personnel'

Bannu, 1 Oct. (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - Pakistani Taliban allegedly seized 24 personnel on Monday in a daring raid on the Rocha Frontier Constabulary Fort in the Pakakhail area of Bannu, independent sources told Adnkronos International (AKI).

The independent sources confirmed that a band of militants attacked the fort in the garrison town of Bannu’s region of Pakakhail and abducted 24 personnel including a senior non-commissioned office (NCO). The attack followed a deadly suicide attack in the town earlier in the day.

Security forces reportedly put up little resistance when the militants laid siege to the fort and asked them to surrender.

Members of the security forces have religious and ethnic ties with the Islamic militants, according to analysts.

The Taliban are expected to demand a ransom and the release of their prisoners in return for the security personnel's release.

The militants are believed to be under the larger command of Baitullah Mehsud, a young Taliban in the Pakistan's restive Waziristan tribal region. The garrison town of Bannu is on the Afghan border near the North Waziristan tribal region, a heartland for pro-Taliban militants.

A suicide attack in Bannu earlier on Monday killed at least 16 people including four policemen and three women, and injured 31 , according to police. The bombing reportedly targeted a military convoy onthe outskirts of Bannu.

Monday's abduction follows an earlier one carried out by Mehsud's men when some 500 Pakistani soldiers including a military convoy of over 200 soldiers were taken hostage without a single shot being fired.

The kidnappings indicate the rising influence of Pakistani Taliban which is rapidly spreading into Pakistani cities after establishing their bases in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan.


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