The Pakistani Taliban have warned that they will take "severe action" against any persons who form "lashkars" or militias to take on the militants in the restive tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
Azam Tariq, the spokesman for the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, threatened that his group would take "severe action whenever and wherever peace committees" or anti-Taliban militias are formed.
All persons working with security forces and peace committees would be brought to Taliban courts and awarded punishment according to Shariah or Islamic law, Tariq was quoted as saying by The Frontier Post newspaper on Sunday.
Tariq acknowledged that 23 elders of the Mehsud tribe of South Waziristan were in the Taliban's custody.
Earlier reports had said that the elders were detained by militants after they attended a function addressed by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on December 7.
The Taliban spokesman said that Mehsud tribesmen displaced by fighting between militants and security forces in South Waziristan should not think of returning to their homes until the army pulls out of the region.
Tariq also warned the media to "abandon following the western powers and not to print any news without verification".
The Taliban have repeatedly targeted pro-government tribal elders and warned people displaced by fighting not to accept aid from the authorities. The government and security forces have propped up scores of tribal militias to boost the campaign against the Taliban.
In recent months, leaders of the militias have complained that they have not received weapons and support promised by the authorities.