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Students held as hostages by Taliban freed

Last updated on: June 02, 2009 10:04 IST

A hostage drama in Pakistan's restive Waziristan tribal region ended on Tuesday with the army rescuing 80 students and staff members of a cadet college from Taliban fighters, who had kidnapped them hours earlier.

As many as 71 students and nine staff members of the Razmak Cadet College were rescued after a gun battle with the Taliban at Ghariom, located about 20 km east of Razmak town in North Waziristan, chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said.

The kidnapped students were being escorted by militants in four to five cars and the Taliban intended to take them to South Waziristan, Abbas told reporters.

"In an action, the army along with the Frontier Corps intercepted this convoy at a place called Ghariom and there a gunfight took place (during which) the terrorists fled. After an hour, 71 cadets and nine staff members (of the college) were recovered," he said.

All the cadets and staff members are 'safe and sound', he added. Abbas said the students and staff members were kidnapped on Monday at a place called Baka Khel, located along the boundary between North Waziristan Agency and Bannu district of the North West Frontier Province.

After learning of the kidnapping of the students, the military blocked all routes to South Waziristan, he said.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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