Government officials have said dozens of fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked two tribal police posts in northwest Pakistan, killing two police officers.
Twenty-two tribal police are also missing and presumed kidnapped following the pre-dawn attack on Thursday, in the town of Darra Adam Khel, according to Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder.
The town is a “strategic corridor” to both North and South Waziristan as well as the Kohat district near city of Peshawar, a region suspected as the main sanctuary of Taliban militants.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but “there were deep suspicions that the Pakistani Taliban were behind the attack and may be holding the men”, Hyder reported.
Officials also told the Associated Press that security forces have launched an operation to rescue the missing policemen.
Almost at the same time that the attacks occurred, Pakistani Taliban officials also outlined conditions for a ceasefire with the Pakistani government, including the adoption of Islamic law and a break with the United States.
The Taliban made the offer in a letter to a local journalist Saleem Safi, who wrote about it the Pakistan daily The News on Thursday.
The reporter said the Taliban demanded that Pakistan stop its involvement in the war pitting Afghan insurgents against the Kabul government and refocus on a war of “revenge” against India.
Safi said the militants also accused Pakistan’s army of acting as “mercenaries” for America and pledged to continue attacks on two major political parties they say serve US interests.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate entity allied to the Afghan Taliban. Known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), they have launched devastating attacks against the Pakistani military and civilians.
The ceasefire conditions was confirmed by the group’s spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan in a phone call to Reuters.
Ihsan also said that even if there was a peace agreement signed with the government, the Taliban would not disarm because they do not accept Pakistan’s “present secular and pro-West system and its constitution.”
He said if the Pakistan government wanted a ceasefire, it would have to accept all the demands.
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik dismissed the letter saying he rejected any offer of ceasefire unless it came directly from the Pakistan Taliban leader himself.
“I reject all these offers, and any future claims, of Ihsanullah Ihsan, unless and until Hakeemullah Mehsud owns them himself, ” Malik told reporters.
Military officials told Reuters last month that Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud had lost operational command to his deputy, Wali ur-Rehman, who is considered to be more open to reconciliation with the Pakistani government.
The Taliban deny Mehsud has lost command.
The letter from the Taliban spokesman comes as the focus in Afghanistan shifts from a military push by NATO troops to potential peace talks, and amid speculation of a rift between top Pakistan Taliban leaders.
NATO troops are due to hand over control of most operations in Afghanistan to Afghan forces next year and officials have been eager to start peace talks with the Taliban there.