Major General Waheed Arshad, chief military spokesman, said he was  unable to confirm that the soldiers were abducted but added that the  army had contacted tribal elders.
  
"The weather is bad there, I cannot call them missing. There were some groups, they could not reach their destination," Arshad told private Geo television station.
  
"Its a huge area and they might have taken shelter somewhere."

Attacks on troops

Attacks on Pakistani troops in the tribal regions that border Afghanistan have increased since security forces stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July.

Military officials have said 60 soldiers and 250 anti-government fighters have been killed in violence in little more than one month.

Salih Shah, a senator in the region, told AFP news agency that it was believed the men were "taken hostage due to some misunderstanding between security forces and the militants".

On Tuesday, 18 Pakistani soldiers and a government official were released after being abducted earlier this month.

One soldier seized with the group was beheaded on August 14. A video of the execution, showing a teenage boy killing him with a knife, was distributed by the captors.