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Ijaz Muhammad/AP
Rescued Pakistani students arrive in Bannu, Pakistan.

Pakistani Army Rescues Kidnapped Students and Staff

June 02, 2009 07:00 PM
by Kate Davey
After Taliban forces kidnapped students and staff from a military college in northwest Pakistan on Monday, troops were able to rescue all 80 captives.

Confused Reports About Kidnap, Rescue

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After previously stating that they were missing one person from the 80 kidnapped from a convoy of military college students and staff, Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas then said in a press conference that all the captives were safe.

“Under cover of the firing, the militants escaped, and we have recovered them all,” General Abbas told Sky News.

The New York Times reports students and staff from the Razmak Cadet College, a military school, were kidnapped as they traveled from North Waziristan to the town of Bannu, near the Afghanistan border. Earlier news reports were not entirely clear as to the number of students and staff kidnapped by the Taliban. Originally, the number of captives was believed to be as high as 500; hundreds of others apparently escaped the kidnapping attempt and fled to safety.

According to the Telegraph, the kidnappers were taking the students and staff to South Waziristan, where the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, is based. The Pakistani military is planning to attack Mehsud’s stronghold.

Background: Pakistan launches offensive on Taliban in Swat Valley

An article on the English version of the Al-Jazeera Web site explains that before the Pakistan military rescued the students, “police were negotiating with the Taliban via tribal elders for the captives.”

As an Al-Jazeera reporter notes, since the Pakistani army has launched its offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley, “[k]idnappings and abductions have become a norm for the militants … They use the money to fund their militancy and purchase weapons."

The Washington Post reports that the fighting between the Taliban and the army has displaced about 3 million Pakistanis.
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