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Militants abduct five Christians in Pakistan

Suspected militants associated with Al-Qaeda commander Baitullah Mehsud have kidnapped five Christians in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) of Pak, say media reports.

world Updated: Jan 05, 2008 16:01 IST

Suspected militants associated with Al-Qaeda commander Baitullah Mehsud have kidnapped five Christians in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) of Pakistan, media reports said on Saturday.

The armed rebels also blocked the main Wana-Jandola Road where they stopped all passing vehicles to look for security personnel and government employees, The News reported.

The newspaper quoting sources said the guerrillas stopped a vehicle carrying passengers from Wana, headquarters of South Waziristan, to Dera Ismail Khan in the tribal Pakistani areas.

Among the passengers five were Christians, whom the militants took into custody and drove them later towards an undisclosed location.

Three have been identified as Altaf Masih, Babar Masih and Emanowel while names of two other could not be ascertained. The abducted belonged to Gujranwala and were employed in Wana. They were returning to their hometown when kidnapped.

Officials have confirmed the abduction saying no effort could be made for their release, as the area where they were taken out of a vehicle was a stronghold of Mehsud tribal militants.

"Even we had been directed by the high-ups to avoid travelling in the area inhabited by the Mehsud tribesmen," an unnamed senior official was quoted by the newspaper.

The militants have said the Christian employees would be released after six prominent militants now in custody of law-enforcement agencies were freed.

One of the jailed militants, whose release has been demanded, is Raees Khan Mehsud - a 'commander' of the militant group - while the other five are said to be close associates of Baitullah Mehsud.