Monday, November 29, 1999

Missing Pakistani soldiers in Taliban captivity

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Islamabad, June 16 (DPA) Dozens of Pakistani soldiers have gone missing since the Afghan Taliban carried out a cross-border swoop on a security post, intelligence officials said Wednesday.The incident occurred Monday when militants attacked the Shonkari post in the Mohmand district, which was manned by around 65 personnel of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, which provides security in Pakistan's tribal areas along the Afghan border.A senior intelligence official said on the condition of anonymity that 58 soldiers went missing after the attack, in which seven troops were killed. Eleven returned to their base Tuesday.'At least 10 soldiers have been kidnapped by the Taliban and taken to Afghanistan while the fate of 37 is not clear,' he said. 'We believe that these 37 soldiers might be hiding in the thick forest along the border, but nothing is clear yet'.Another intelligence official confirmed the incident but said of the 37 missing, three had been rescued.'Our three soldiers crossed into Afghanistan following the attack and approached the Afghan National Army,' said the official, who also sought anonymity. 'These three have been handed over to the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad' in eastern Afghanistan.Pakistani forces launched a campaign against the Taliban several months ago in the Mohmand district and have captured some major areas there, but militants still control vast swathes of the region.The kidnappings came on the heels of a report by the London School of Economics that the Afghan Taliban are still being trained, financed and guided by Pakistani intelligence agencies.Taliban have rejected the story as 'baseless propaganda.'

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