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Taliban-Linked Militants Kidnap 30 In Pakistan

Followers of a radical Taliban-linked cleric in the town of Swat

Followers of a radical Taliban-linked cleric in the town of Swat

MINGORA, Pakistan -- Pro-Taliban militants have attacked a security post and taken up to 30 hostages in Pakistan's Swat Valley, a day after insurgents killed three army intelligence staffers, officials said.

The incidents delivered the most serious blow yet to a peace deal signed two months ago in the northwestern valley, where militants have become more active in recent weeks because they say the government hasn't lived up to its side of the accord.

Swat had been a top tourist destination until militants, led by a radical cleric called Fazlullah, launched a campaign of violence last year to enforce Taliban-style Islamic law in the valley.

On July 29, they attacked a joint military-police post in the Kabal area, 35 kilometers northwest of Mingora, Swat's main town, and captured 30 police and paramilitary personnel, according to officials, though a militant spokesman put the number at 27.

"They were asked to surrender or face death, and they gave up," the spokesman, Muslim Khan, told Reuters.

Two soldiers and a young girl were killed when security forces traded fire with militants around Kabal after the attack on the post. Security forces also arrested several suspects in a search of the village.

Late on July 28, insurgents ambushed and killed three intelligence officials as they were driving back to Mingora.

"We have killed them because people from the security agencies arrest our people and brutally torture them," the militant spokesman said.

Militants also torched a health office and exchanged fire with police in Matta, one of the militants' strongholds, on July 29.