Taliban say 27 kidnapped men in their custody
KHAR: The outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has claimed that 27 young men of Bajaur Agency who had accidentally crossed over into Afghanistan were in its custody.
A man who introduced himself as TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told journalists by phone on Saturday that those kidnapped were grown-up men, aged between 20 and 26 years, and not boys, as reported in the press.
The Taliban Shura would decide their fate after investigations, Mr Ihsan added. The TTP spokesman claimed the Taliban had evidence that the parents of the kidnapped men and some of their relatives had raised Lashkars to fight the militants in Bajaur.
The 27 men were part of a group of 45 that had strayed into Afghanistan’s Kunar province on Thursday after losing their way during a picnic at Ghakhi Pass, near the border. The kidnappers released 18 of the 45, but whereabouts of the 27 others are not known.
A 30-member jirga refused to proceed to Afghanistan for talks with elders of Kunar province for the abductees’ release, owing to security concerns.
The Mamond tribe nominated 30 elders to hold talks with the kidnappers through interlocutors. Sources quoting jirga members said the security situation in Afghanistan was not conducive and they could not go across the border without the Afghan government’s assurances. They said tribesmen had contacted influential people in Kunar and sought their help for the release of their relatives.
A jirga of Mamond tribe was held in Berkhelzo area. It was attended by officials of the political administration. The jirga urged the Afghan government to ensure the release of the kidnapped and take action against people who were involved in the abduction.
Muhammad, 22, who was set free along with 17 others soon after the abduction on Thursday, told Dawn: “We crossed the border without informing local authorities.”
He said the group was watching Athan (a folk dance) in Mandai, just one kilometre from the Afghan border, when armed men suddenly appeared from maize fields and held them at gunpoint. He said he and a few others managed to escape while the kidnappers were bundling their colleagues into vehicles.