Pakistani officials say Taliban militants in North Waziristan have kidnapped
about 400 students at a military college in Bannu district.
Police in Bannu district say the students were traveling in around 30 vehicles and were stopped Monday evening after leaving Razmak Cadet College by heavily armed militants. Police say two of those vehicles were able to reach a police station, but 28 remain missing.
A council of local tribal elders, known as a jirga, was quickly arranged to try to negotiate with the kidnappers, whose demands were not immediately known. The police say the militants are associated with extremists based in North and South Waziristan.
Shaukat Khattak is a Pakistani television journalist based in Peshawar. He says the students were most likely abducted because they are easy targets.
"They [the militants] are engaged in a war with against Pakistani forces, not only in Swat Valley, but in different areas in Waziristan," said Shaukat Khattak. "And I think the students were a soft target for them. That's why they've been kidnapped. Because there was no proper security for the students."
Reports in Pakistan about the incident are conflicting. Some media quote school officials as saying only two or three vehicles were taken. But Bannu district police say 28 vehicles were missing with hundreds of students being held captive.
North and South Waziristan are strongholds for the Taliban and al-Qaida. Pakistani military troops have clashed with militants in recent days in South Waziristan, even as they battle Taliban militants further north in Swat Valley.
Top Taliban leaders have vowed to stage attacks to avenge the month-long military offensive in Swat Valley following the collapse of a controversial peace deal to impose strict Islamic law in the region.