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Pakistani Taliban releases 17 abducted boys

By Nasir Habib, for CNN
updated 1:07 PM EST, Thu January 5, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Boys were abducted in September from Pakistan's tribal belt on Afghan border
  • They were not harmed while they were being held, Pakistani government official says
  • Pakistani Taliban has close ties to al Qaeda, is thought to be an umbrella group for area militants

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Pakistani Taliban released 17 teenage boys Thursday whom they abducted in September from the country's restive tribal belt that borders Afghanistan, according to a senior Pakistani government official.

The militant group released the boys without conditions, said Islam Zeb, an administration official in Bajaur Agency, a stronghold of the country's Taliban and the area where the boys were abducted.

Zeb said they were not harmed while they were being held.

A Taliban representative said the boys were abducted as revenge for a pro-government militia's battle against the group.

The Pakistani Taliban, which has close ties to al Qaeda, is thought to be an umbrella organization for militant tribal and Islamist factions in the region, contributing to violence against NATO troops and Pakistani security forces.

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