Militants free 50 hostages in northwest Pakistan: official
ected militants have released 50 people kidnapped on Saturday in Pakistan's restive northwest, a government official said on Sunday. Suspected militants dressed as policemen kidnapped at least 60 people in two incidents in the ethnic Pashtun tribal region of Kurram, where government forces have recently stepped up an anti-militant operation. Negotiations involving tribal elders were underway for the release of the remaining 10 hostages, believed to be employees of the state power company, regional government official Mumtaz Khan told Reuters. "Militants seem reluctant to free them because they are government employees but we are making all our efforts and we have engaged tribal elders in the process," said Khan. Pakistani government officials have accused Pakistani Taliban militants of carrying out kidnappings after coming under pressure from security crackdowns in Kurrum and other areas. Taliban officials were not immediately available for comment. Some kidnappings in the region were believed to have been carried out by tribes. Hameedullah Khan, a tribal elder, had a different account of what happened with the hostages, saying militants released 40, while 10 escaped. He was optimistic those still being held would be freed. "The 10 men do not have identity cards so the Taliban are just holding them to verify their identity. It's not a big deal," Khan said. In a video message last week, Pakistan's Taliban warned America it will soon "burn" while calling for Pakistan's rulers to be overthrown for following "America's agenda."