PESHAWAR, Pakistan, (Reuters) – Pakistani Taliban fighters have abducted two Pakistani journalists who entered their stronghold in a tribal region close to the Afghan border.
The militants detained the freelance reporter and a photographer in Ziarat village, in the Mohmand region, late on Thursday. “Now, our council will meet and decide what to do,” Asad, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said by telephone on Friday.
A group of tribal elders have gone to negotiate for the release of the journalists, according to Syed Ahmad Jan, a senior administrator in Mohmand.
“We’re doing our best. We’ve sent a delegation of tribal elders to the kidnappers to get them released,” said Jan.
Pro-Taliban groups control large chunks of territory in ethnic Pashtun regions, like Mohmand, and al Qaeda militants are also hiding in the area along the Afghan border.
The semi-autonomous tribal regions have never come under the full control of any government and security forces rarely entered the area before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Since then, under pressure from the United States to root militants out of sanctuaries from where they attack into Afghanistan, the government has been trying to extend its writ along the border. But a succession of military offensives and peace pacts has failed to stem the militants’ growing strength.
Several Pakistani reporters covering the conflict have been killed. The government does not let foreign reporters into the tribal areas except on occasional trips with the military.