However, the freed soldiers were meant to be handed over later on Monday to government officials in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, a region where al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters are said to operate.

It was not clear where there were any conditions to the soldiers’ release.

The fighters had earlier demanded that authorities withdraw the military from the area and free more than a dozen of their members.

Six of the troops were released last week in what an official had said was a "goodwill" gesture to the jirga that was trying to negotiate their release.