Dozens of pro-Taliban rebels stormed a checkpost in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday and kidnapped 12 soldiers, the latest in a series of abductions near the Afghan border, officials said.
In a pre-dawn raid, the rebels armed with heavy weapons including rocket launchers surrounded a security post on the outskirts of the troubled city of Bannu, which borders the tribal zone of North Waziristan, they said.
They opened fire on the post and wounded a policeman and a soldier, before whisking away 12 paramilitary troops and driving them to an unknown place, local security chief Amir Badshah said.
"They were local Taliban," he said.
Pakistan has been rocked by violence since troops stormed the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad in July, with militants increasingly turning to kidnappings to press their demands for troops to stop operations against them.
More than 200 soldiers remain in insurgent hands in the tribal zone of South Waziristan bordering Afghanistan nearly two weeks after surrendering without firing a shot.
Militants abducted another 15 soldiers in August in the same area. One of them was beheaded by teenage militants in a killing recorded on video and the rest were freed later.
President Pervez Musharraf is under mounting pressure to tackle Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, who US officials allege have based themselves in the tribal areas along the Afghan border since fleeing there after the events of 9/11.