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Pakistan releases 14 more Taliban militants

world Updated: Mar 23, 2009 15:50 IST
Pakistan releases 14 more Taliban militants

Pakistani authorities have released 14 more Taliban prisoners under the terms of an agreement to restore peace in the troubled Swat valley, taking the total number of militants freed so far to over 50.

Fourteen Taliban prisoners were freed on Sunday from a prison in Buner district of the North West Frontier Province.

They were released under the terms of a peace accord between the provincial government and the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e- Shariah Muhammadi, a group of religious hardliners that is negotiating with the Taliban.

Officials told the Daily Times newspaper that more Taliban prisoners would be freed in phases. They claimed normalcy was gradually returning to Swat "because of the release of the Taliban".

The government is fulfilling promises made under the peace accord and "it is now (the Taliban's) turn to play their role in restoring peace in the valley", the officials were quoted as saying.

The release of prisoners was one of the Taliban's demands for restoration of peace in Swat, located just 160 km from Islamabad. The officials said the decision to free the Taliban was also a "goodwill gesture".

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents of Swat protested on Sunday against the deployment of security personnel at mosques and in residential areas. Following the protest, security forces left their positions at Salanda mosque.