Suspected Taliban militants kidnapped a group of around 30 Pakistani boys Friday after luring them across the border into Afghanistan from Pakistan.
Insurgents initially captured around 40 children, but released those under 12, allowing them to travel back to their respective villages in the Pakistani border region of Bajur, according to its top political official, Islam Zeb.
The boys, reportedly aged 10-15, went to Afghanistan's Kunar province Thursday after a man invited them to play in a nearby river, said Zeb and Abdul Haseeb Khan, another official. The children were clearly from villages situated very close to the border.
International Business Times claims the boys are likely being held hostage by Maulvi Faqir Muhammad. Muhammad is allegedly a prominent Taliban commander who lives under protection in the Bajur region. IBT adds:
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an Islamic extremist organization that isn't directly connected to the Afghan Taliban government that collapsed in 2001, contacted the teens' families, saying they will detain the Pakistanis indefinitely.
"These boys inadvertently crossed into Afghanistan while picnicking on the second day of Eid and were kidnapped by militants," senior local administration official Syed Nasim was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse.
While the AP reports that the reasons behind the kidnapping remain unclear, militants often target people from opposing tribes.
Zeb said elders were negotiating with the captors to free all the boys.
Pakistani officials claim the attackers are militants who had fled army operations in Pakistan and were using Afghan soil as a refuge.
The AP contributed to this story.