Pakistani authorities on Friday freed 20 jailed militants as a 'goodwill gesture' to carry forward the peace process in the Taliban-dominated Swat valley.
Among the militants set free was Noorul Huda, the brother of Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan, officials in Swat were quoted as saying by state-run APP news agency.
The militants were released as per the provisions of a peace agreement signed last month by the NWFP government and Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi (TNSM), a group of religious hardliners led by Sufi Muhammad, the father-in-law of Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah.
Officials said the militants were freed as a 'goodwill gesture' on the part of the government to move forward the peace process in the restive region.
The 20 militants freed on Friday morning by security forces were handed over to a peace committee, a day after the Taliban demanded that the authorities release 210 prisoners.
More than 30 Taliban prisoners have been freed since the pact was inked.
The release of the militants followed long deliberations between the local administration, security forces, members of the TNSM and the peace committee. The TNSM and the peace committee assured the government that the freed militants would not resort to any violence.
Western powers, including the US and UK, have expressed concern over the peace deal in Swat, with some saying it could help the militants to regroup.