Taliban proposes prisoner swap for hostages

Gunmen vow to kill captured teenagers if Pakistan's government does not release Taliban prisoners.

    The Pakistani Taliban, who are holding up to 30 boys hostage in an area straddling the border with Afghanistan, have demanded the release of scores of prisoners and an end to tribal elders' support of offensives against them.

    The teenage tribesmen from Pakistan's northwestern Bajaur tribal region were abducted by Taliban last Friday, while picnicking in Afghanistan's border province of Kunar on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

    "If the Pakistan government and the tribal elders don't respond to our demands, we will not free the boys," Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban commander in Bajaur, told a group of reporters who were taken to a border hideout on Tuesday.

    Four of the prisoners, who were between the ages of 15 to 21, were shown to reporters during the visit to the area between Marah Warah district in Kunar province and the Bajaur tribal region.

    Dadullah demanded the release of prisoners, including women and children detained in jails in Peshawar, the main city in the Pakistani northwest and Bajaur region.

    He also demanded that the government provide compensation for the houses destroyed in Pakistani military operations in Bajaur.

    Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan reports from Kabul.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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