Pakistan: Child hostages freed in troubled northwest

Upper Dir, 18 Sept. (AKI) - Local people in northwest Pakistan on Thursday fought three militants and freed about 300 school students who had been taken hostage earlier in the day.

The residents stormed the primary school building in the Upper Dir district of the North West Frontier Province, bordering Afghanistan, where three suicide bombers were holding the children.

According to media reports, the captors engaged in a gun battle before freeing all the captives unhurt.

Two of the militants were reportedly suicide bombers who blew themselves up, while the third fled.

The district is near the Bajaur tribal region and the Swat Valley, both of which have been the scene of much insurgent violence in recent months.

Pakistan's security forces claim to have killed more than 700 militants in an offensive in the Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan in the past six weeks.

At least 19 gunmen were killed in a battle in the region on Wednesday, according to military sources.


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