Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban in the South West Frontier Province of Pakistan is holding 208 Pakistani army and Frontier Corps peronell hostage. The government has been denying the rumors, but now the reality appears. From Malaysia Times:
Militant commander Baitullah Mahsud has reportedly taken nearly 208 soldiers of the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps (FC) hostage in South Waziristan Agency, credible sources have said.
Militants have kidnapped 208 security personnel, including 75 belonging to FC, when their convoy comprising 16 vehicles reached the Shawangi area, about 40 kilometres north of WANA, sources said.
Among the kidnapped security personnel, 10 are said to be senior officers including a colonel, a major, two captains and eight other junior rank officers.
The militants, according to sources, first besieged the convoy, which was on its way from Shakai to Ladha subdivision, and then disarmed all the soldiers.
Sources said the troops were divided into groups of 30 each by the militants and shifted to undisclosed hideouts.
The goverment has called for a Jirga to negotiate, as Baitullah’s army of mixed Tribals, Jihadist groups, and Taliban appears to be forming a regional power. There are signs of friction between Baitullah’s Taliban and the mixed AQAM, Taliban, and Wazir forces in NWFP. This was demonstrated by his blockage of their forces and shoot out at the border post between Mehsuds and Wazirs a couple of weeks back.
The government is putting the best face on the issue stating that the army forces are caught between two factions of Mahsuds, and just camped until the tensions ease. This appears to be a difference in interpretation of the accords that were signed at the grand Jirga, but we shall see.
You also have to wonder what the convoy is carrying in the way of arms and ordnance.