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Taliban swaps Pak official in exchange of militants

Taliban who had kidnapped a top civil official in the restive Swat valley in NWFP released him only in exchange for two militants, raising question marks over a peace deal stuck between hardline religious group and the government.

world Updated: Feb 23, 2009 16:33 IST

Taliban who had kidnapped a top civil official in the restive Swat valley in NWFP released him only in exchange for two militants, raising question marks over a peace deal stuck between hardline religious group and the government.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the official, Kushal Khan, and his guards had been released in exchange for two militants who were arrested in Peshawar last week.

Though a peace pact is in force between Taliban backed hardline religious groups and the provincial government banning hostilities still the Taliban insisted on Swap for their release.

Kushal Khan, who was recently appointed as District Coordination Officer, and his six guards were abducted yesterday on the outskirts of Mingora, the main city in Swat.

"The government has released our two men and they will soon release another," he told reporters in Swat.

"The government violated the agreement by arresting our men in Peshawar and killing one in Dir. Therefore, we had to do this," Khan said, referring to the official's abduction.

However, the Swat peace pact covers only the Malakand division in the NWFP, official reports had said. It is not clear how an arrest of a Taliban cadre in provincial capital of Peshawar was construed by the group as a violation of the deal.