And once granted safe passage, they took along five children and ten other residents of the town as human shields.
“Islamic militants take schoolchildren hostage in Pakistan,” from Indo-Asian News Service:
Islamabad, Jan 28 : A group of Islamic militants entered a high school in a town in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) Monday and took around 300 children hostage, media reports said.
The insurgents stormed into the school to escape arrest after failing to abduct a government health official and his driver in the Battal Khel area of Bannu district, 200 km south of the NWFP capital Peshawar, the Aaj television channel reported.
From inside the school building the rebels exchanged fire with law enforcers, leaving three security personnel injured. One of the hostage-takers was also killed in the gunfight, but all the children remained safe.
The armed men released most of the students but held 25 of them and six teachers following hours of negotiations with the local religious leaders and administration.
The militants demanded safe passage with five schoolchildren and 10 local residents, assuring authorities that the hostages would be released once they crossed into the lawless tribal areas, the TV report said.
The hostage drama is the first of its nature in the ongoing conflict between Islamic extremists and the government of President Pervez Musharraf.
Pro-Taliban militants from the neighbouring restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan routinely launch raids in the Bannu district on security officials and state installations.